Korea emerged champions of the Asia Cup when they edged India 4-3 in a pulstating final at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.
However the loudest cheers probably came from the Malaysian team who have now officially confirmed their place in the 2014 World Cup to be held at The Hague.
Germany, Argentina and England qualified from the World League ,Johor Bahru leg while Belgium, Australia and Netherlands made it from the Rotterdam leg. But since the Dutch qualify as hosts, New Zealand, the highest (FIH) ranked fourth finisher in the World League semis, became the seventh team to qualify.
That left five more slots to fill. Korea (fourth in Johor Bahru) qualified as first reserve courtesy Argentina’s victory in the Pan-American Cup, Spain (fifth in Rotterdam) qualified as second reserve thanks to Germany’s win in the European championship.
India will now have to wait until the Oceania Championships this November to book their berth which is virtually assured as either Australia or New Zealand win will drag India into the World Cup.
This is Korea’s fourth Asia Cup title and they have successfully defended the title they won in Kuantan four years ago.
After a rather subdued 20 minutes, Korea burst into life to take a 2-0 lead within the space of a minute.
Jang Jong Hyun converted a penalty corner in the 28th minute to give Korea a 1-0 lead. And hardly had the cheers died down that You hyo Sik ghosted in from the right to tap the ball into goal with Indian keeper PR Sreejesh and defender Amit Rohidas both caught unawares to make it 2-0.
Rupinderpal Singh reduced the deficit for India in the 48th minute as his penalty corner drag flick sailed into the roof of the Korean net. And in the 56th minute India were on level terms as Nikkin Thimmalah sent in an unstoppable reverse stick hit sailing into goal from the edge of the semi circle.
However Korea were awarded a penalty stroke when the attempt by Jang bounced off Sreejesh and hit the body of Manpreet Singh on the goal line. Nam Hyun Woo stepped up to convert and restore the Korean lead in the 57th minute.
But Nam lost the ball at the edge of the semi circle and Ramandeep Singh squared it to Mandeep Sing who tapped it into goal to draw India level yet again in the 65th minute.
Korea scored the winner two minutes from time as Kang Moon Kweon scored from a penalty corner set piece to give them the title, and assure the Malaysian spot at the World cup.
South Korea 4 India 3
Malaysia 1 Pakistan 3
ROLL OF HONOUR
Man of the Match (final): Kang Moon Kweon (S Korea)
Best Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh (India)
Top Scorer: Jang Jong Hyun (Korea, eight goals)
Most Outstanding Player: VR Raghunath (India)