MUSCAT: South Korea edged out a fighting India 3-2 in the first semifinal of the Women’s Asia Cup 2022 hockey championship at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Wednesday.
In the second semifinal at the same venue, Japan overcame the challenge of China 2-1 to book the title showdown with South Korea.
The defending champions scored first in the match when Neha struck after a move that came off a penalty corner in the 28th minute.
Though India had netted in the 12th minute of the match when Lalremsiami scored after a long pass from Navjot Kauar, it was disallowed and none of the teams could score in the first quarter.
India led the half-time 1-0.
South Korea, who are unbeaten in the tournament, came back strong in the third quarter when Eunbi Cheon cashed on a defensive lapse from India goalkeeper Savita Punia.
A move that came off a penalty corner, Savita fell after blocking a strike from a Korean player and Cheon put the ball inside Indian net in the ensuing scramble to equalize score at 1-1.
Then after South Korea controlled the match with some purposeful attacks and Seung Ju Lee put them in lead in the opening minute of the last quarter.
Two minutes later, Hyejin Cho found the target after a well-constructed move as South Korea cushioned their lead to 3-1.
Indian women, stunned by the two quick goals, recuperated to organize attacks.
India’s Ishika Choudary received a yellow card in the 50th minute.
Lalremsiami tapped in a high ball bounce in front of the South Korean goalkeeper Hyeona Hwang to reduce the deficit to 3-2 with six minutes remaining.
South Korea then kept possession for most of the time as Indian players failed to grab the ball in search of the equaliser.
South Korean defence and goalkeeper stood strong in the final minutes to deny any equaliser for India as they ensured the final on Friday.
In another close encounter, Japan overcame the challenge of China 2-1 later.
In the second semifinal, it was a tight tussle in the first quarter as both teams were tight in defence.
China struck first when Shumin Wang found the target through a brilliant field goal in the 18th minute.
Japan, however regrouped to find the equaliser in the 24th minute as Amiru Shimada scored after a well-organised move.
The third quarter also remained goalless as Japan defended some series of penalty corners by China.
Japan is coached by former Indian player Jude Menezez, while Hong Chen is the China coach.
In the last quarter, Japan started off with some strong attacks and five minutes later Kaho Tanaka broke the Chinese defence to put her team in lead.
Japan put the ball inside Chinese net from a penalty corner later but it was disallowed as the score remained 2-1.
In the last minutes, Chinese women failed to go past the Japan goalkeeper and strong defence as Japan went through to the final on Friday.