INCHEON, South Korea: Rim Chang-Woo scored in the last minute of extra time as South Korea downed wartime rivals North Korea in a thrilling Asian Games men’s football final on Thursday (Oct 2).
India won a nail-biting shoot-out against Pakistan to claim hockey gold as two of the region’s most bitter rivalries took centre-stage in Incheon.
Korean eyes were firmly focused on Munhak Stadium where the North and South played out a compelling football final thick with political symbolism. Both sides had their chances but the match was headed for a penalty shoot-out when Rim rammed home his shot from close range after No Dong-Geon handled on the line.
India triumphed against Pakistan to win back the Asiad hockey title after 16 years and earn a direct entry into the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The arch-rivals played out a 1-1 draw in regulation time before Indian goalkeeper Parattu Sreejesh saved two of Pakistan’s four penalty attempts to become hero of the day. India put in four goals past Pakistan’s Imran Butt to win the shoot-out 4-2 and clinch their third Asiad gold, but their first since the Bangkok Games in 1998.
Some 4,000 fans, including Games competitors from both nations, packed the Seonhak hockey stadium to witness the first India-Pakistan Asian Games final in 32 years. “This is a special moment for Indian hockey,” said the team’s Australian coach Terry Walsh. “Most of the guys had not played a big final for a long time so I am very happy for them to have accomplished the task.”
Malaysia’s campaign against wushu gold-medallist Tai Cheau Xuen’s failed drugs test finally hit the wall when their appeal to the world sports arbitration court failed. Chef de mission Danyal Balagopal told AFP that Malaysia would now return Tai’s gold medal, which officials had retained as they protested Tai’s innocence.
“We will accept the decision. We are not sore losers. They gave us a fair hearing,” Balagopal said. “I feel very sad for the girl. I don’t think she had any intention to cheat.”
Boxing’s world body announced a disciplinary case against India’s Sarita Devi after she refused to accept her lightweight bronze medal in protest at judging standards. Asian Games organisers said Devi’s actions were “against the spirit of sportsmanship” but they also urged the boxing association to “ensure fair play” after several complaints.
But Philippines boxing boss Ricky Vargas slammed “hometown decisions” on Thursday as the judging came under fresh attack. Vargas questioned a unanimous points decision that went against light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga, who jumped for joy after his semi-final believing he had won.
Instead the fight went to South Korea’s Shin Jong-Hun, who was heavily marked around the face after a Barriga barrage of heavy punches. “I think it’s factual, it’s very hard to beat a Korean,” said Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP). “Hometown decisions are very prevalent here,” he told AFP.
On the last night of athletics, China’s men’s 4x100m relay team set a new Asian record of 37.99sec as they raced to gold ahead of Japan and Hong Kong. There was more long-distance gold for Bahrain’s African imports as Ethiopian-born Maryam Yusuf Jamal won the 5,000m and Eunice Kirwa (Kenya) claimed the marathon.
Elsewhere, defending champions Bangladesh crashed out of the men’s cricket on the toss of a coin after rain forced the abandonment of their semi-final against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s captain Lahiru Thirimanne called “tails” to send Bangladesh packing in the most unfortunate of circumstances and take his team into a final against Afghanistan. “I can’t do anything when the game is decided with a coin toss. Win or lose, I can’t do anything,” shrugged Bangladesh skipper Masrafe Mortaza.
With just one full day of competition remaining, China were sitting on 142 gold medals, nearly double the tally of second-placed South Korea on 72.