Ipoh (Malaysia): India fought valiantly before losing 3-4 to defending champions South Korea in the final of the ninth Asia Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday and the players feel that a bad umpiring decision at the fag end of the match cost them the title.
Australian umpire Murray Grime awarded Korea a penalty corner just two minutes from the hooter when Rupinderpal Singh tackled a Korean forward inside the circle, but the Indian players feel it was wrong judgement by the umpire and the tackle was a clean one.
"The last penalty corner which Korea got was wrongly given. By no chance it was a penalty corner. It was a clean tackle from Rupinder, but the umpire debated that he deliberately did it," an Indian player said on condition of anonymity.
The resultant penalty corner hurt India badly as Kang Moon Kweon made no mistake with the chance and converted it to shatter the hopes of handful of Indian supporters present at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium.
"The umpiring cost us the match. We came here with one purpose to win the tournament. But in the end we are happy with the way we played here," another player said.
Asked India`s interim coach Roelant Oltmans about the decisive penalty corner, he simply said: "It`s better not to say anything about it."
Disappointed to have faltered at the final hurdle, Oltmans nevertheless said the players should be proud of their performance in the ninth edition of the Asia Cup.
"Obviously, I am disappointed with the end result but we are proud of the way we came back into the game. In the first half we didn`t play well but in the second half we really played outstanding hockey. We scored two fantastic goals," he said.