Defending champion prevails in record final day at IKF AOKC
In the final day at the IKF AOKC the medals were decided and the world record for aggregate goals was equalled in the gold medal match.
Playing off for seventh place in the first match of the final day, Korea met Macau, both respective fourth place finishers in their preliminary pools. Macau started stronger with their male players shooting well from distance, and appeared capable of putting the game out of their opponents’ reach, before Korea staged a good fightback to draw level, 8-8, at half time. Three excellent long shots in quick time by Chi On Ho gave Macau a slight edge early in the second half, but Korea again came back, thanks in part to some defensive frailty by their opponent conceding penalties. This time it was decisive, 18-16, with Korea, holding on at the end to clinch seventh place.
New Zealand met Malaysia for fifth, with the former bringing a higher IKF ranking into the tournament, while the latter had shown positive improvement this week. Obviously confident, Malaysia took to the court with a number of regular starting players on the bench. After New Zealand scored with its first attack and moved to a three goal advantage in the 20th minute, it appeared the gamble would not work out. However, the lack of shooting accuracy that has beset New Zealand this week meant that Malaysia was able to remain in touch, and in the second half coach Lau Wai Fun brought some of her more accomplished players into the game, freeing up sharp-shooter Randy Ho Kang Lip to damage the New Zealand cause, which he did effectively, scoring eight, taking his team into a lead that it never relinquished for a 19-14 victory and fifth place.
In the bronze medal match China and Hong Kong fought all the way, China’s high energy pressing game countering Hong Kong’s speed and precision. While China had a slight advantage on the scoreboard for much of the game, for a period in the second half the hosts had the ascendancy and it appeared they would be able to take control. China held firm, though, with the dependable trio of Yongbin Yang, Muzi Li and Shuaishuai Liang standing out. When the latter scored a penalty with four minutes left to play, extending the gap to six points, the game was effectively won, despite Hong Kong scoring the final three goals for a 22-19 scoreline that secured China the bronze.
Most spectators at the Kowloon Park Sports Centre this week expected defending champion Chinese Taipei to take home the gold medal and retain its title. In the final, that proved to be the case. Australia, however, had played in and won two of the most exciting games of the tournament against China and Hong Kong, and demonstrated once again today that they have regained the mantle of the second best korfball nation outside Europe. Chinese Taipei started with customary verve, accuracy and purpose, scoring a penalty after just a few seconds, and had gained an 8-1 lead before Australia found any rhythm. Once that happened, Craig Miller and Ashlee Othen did particularly well, scoring five each, while for Chinese Taipei goals came from everyone, particularly superstar Ricky Wu, who scored nine today and top scored for the tournament with 36, while his team mate Ya Wen Lin’s six today took her to 32 and top female scorer this week on 32. As the match proceeded, defence became a minor consideration, goals came in ever greater torrents, and eventually the result, 45-27, equalled the record for the aggregate score in an international korfball match, 72 previously recorded when Chinese Taipei met Pakistan in a pool game in this tournament in 2010. Chinese Taipei, worthy winners and once again Asia Oceania champion.