2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Road to the semis: Republic of Korea’s unbeaten run - Features

Road to the semis: Republic of Korea’s unbeaten run

20 October 2016

The 2016 Kabaddi World Cup has made for an exciting watch so far and there have been a few surprises too. The tournament began with one such surprise as Republic of Korea took on strong favourites India in the opening match and emerged victorious. The Koreans have played with a tremendous attitude, team spirit and composure even when things seemed to be moving out of their grasp. They have performed collectively as a unit and it has been difficult to single out just one player on whom they are highly dependent upon.

At the end of the league engagements, Republic of Korea have proved to be the team to beat as they are the only unbeaten side in the tournament. We take a look at their journey so far:

Overcoming the Indian onslaught

The Koreans began their campaign with a tough match against hosts India. With about four minutes left on the clock, they were trailing 21-27 and India were looking to protect that lead having substituted raider Ajay Thakur for defender Dharmaraj Cheralathan. Republic of Korea needed a bit of magic and it came from their star man, Jang Kun Lee. He made six raids in those minutes out of which five were successful, including a stunning 3-point super raid that turned the tables in their favour. The Indians were shell-shocked as they narrowly fell 32-34 and the Koreans had announced that they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Brushing aside Argentina

Newcomers Argentina were an unknown quantity and the Koreans decided to tackle it with a first half blitz that powered them to a 43-11 lead at the halfway stage. The South Americans fought back well in the second but the Koreans’ showed experience and maturity as they ran out comfortable 68-42 winners.

Gritty win against Bangladesh 

Before the tournament began, word from the Bangladesh camp was that Republic of Korea were their biggest threat to reaching the last four stage. Those fears were confounded as both teams arguably produced the match of the tournament when they went head-on against each other. The script of the match was similar to the India game as the Koreans were off to a terrible start, crashing to a 0-10 score in the first half and clawing up to 22-28 in the second. And they once again showcased tremendous spirit to overturn that deficit and score a thrilling 35-32 victory. It was once again, that man, Jang Kun Lee who pulled a super raid out of the hat to spur his side to a fine win.

Breezing past Australia

Republic of Korea dashed any hopes of an upset as an improving Australia were soundly beaten by a hefty 63-25 margin. They looked in control throughout the match, not allowing the opposition any chances to come back into the game.

Dismantling England

Another vastly improved side, England were in the right frame of mind going into this match and there were whispers of an upset going around. All that vanished after the whistle blew as the Koreans put in a thoroughly professional display as they pulverised England 56-17. 

Republic of Korea will now meet Iran in the first semi-final, a mouth-watering clash on October 21 at The Arena, Ahmedabad. The Koreans have risen to the occasion when the chips were down, as was seen against India and Bangladesh. Their defence too is well-organised and patient. Beating Iran will be a tough ask but the Koreans have proved that they are more than ready for it.