By Jugjet Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea grabbed the early favourites tag with a 6-3 win over Canada in the Azlan Shah Cup Saturday.
South Korea 17th in the World, outclassed 10th ranked Canada in very department, especially fitness, until the last quarter.
Kim Jung Hoo (14th), Lee Namyong (19th, 31st, 43rd) and Jang Jong Hyun (20th, 44th) scored for the Koreans.
Jang had recently scored 22 goals to help Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) to win the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Charity Shield as well as TNB Cup.
Canada made a strong comeback in the last 15 minutes with goals from Matthew Sarmento (45th), Adam Froese (45th) and Fin Boothroyd (50th), but the clock ran out on them.
South Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo is now looking forward to erase his team's Asian Games nightmare by lifting the title.
"We finished fourth in Jakarta which was very bad by out standards and now we are rebuilding the team starting with fitness. We want to become champions here, because our last title in 2010 (Joint champions with India after thunderstorm disrupted the final) is too long ago.
"We need a big boost here before we plan for the FIH Series Finals in France in June (Olympic Qualifier)," said Shin.
As for Canada coach Paul Bundy, the score did not matter, as he is here to try out some new players as well as new tactics.
"After the Bhubaneswar World Cup, we decided that we can't continue playing our normal style if we want to progress. That's why we have brought five young players and are working on new format and tactics.
"Credit to Korea because they scored some world class goals, and credit to my players also for trying to make a comeback, but I'm still not happy with the overhead flick decisions.
"The rule was introduced in the World Cup, but until today, the decisions vary according to different umpires. There is no consistency, and this could lead to injuries," said Bundy.
South Korea next play Poland at 4pm Sunday, and their recovery and fitness will be put to test after they gave their all against Canada.