KUALA LUMPUR: There is nothing surprising when the defending champions China take on Japan while Korea, three-times champion, face India in the semi-finals of the 8th Women’s Asia Cup being held at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
As only the Champions of Asia Cup will qualify for the 2014 Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands, the eyes will be on India and Japan, if any of them can make it to the finals and fight for a world cup berth as China and Korea are already booked their tickets to the Hague through Hockey World League Round 3.
At the same time, semi-finals are also important as they are not only route to the World Cup but also pride and important ranking points. China is the highest ranked Asian team with a seventh spot in the FIH ranking list, followed by Korea and Japan at number eight and nine respectively, while India is at 12th place.
Chief Coach of Indian Women’s Hockey team, Neil Hawgood said that the match now takes on a different approach as it is the now knockout stage.
“You cannot afford to make mistakes and each game will be crucial. For us making the final is of utmost importance. But you can be sure the Koreans will want to win the title as well.
“Our game is an open book end there are nothing special we can do in the semis. The plan is to take the game to Korea and try to win it,” he said.
The Koreans and Indians have met seven times in the Asia Cup series. The statistics read two wins each for the teams and three have ended in draws.
South Korean coach Han Jin-soo is adamant that they are here to win the title.
“The rankings are important and winning the title is our objective. Although we have won a place in the World Cup we want to improve on our standings as this tournament offers points for the FIH ranking list.
“We have had a good tournament so far and the players are performing to expectations. We had hoped to meet India and we will be well prepared to beat them,” he said.
Defending champion China have not been that impressive in their matches but they have remained unbeaten.
“Japan are desperate for the win and we will face a tough match. But like all the other teams we want to retain the title. We do have one injury in the team but other than that the team is raring to go,” said their coach You Baodong.
Japan’s Korean coach You Seung-jin said beating China would be a tall order.
“But than with a world cup place at stake we have n choice but to have a go at them. Matches at this level are always a different ball game and we will not make too much mistake. China have all round strength and that makes them dangerous,” he added.