(Photo: FIH)

China won the women’s hockey tournament at the Asian Games on Wednesday by taking a close victory over Japan (1-0) in Doha, Qatar. Ye Ren scored the only goal of the match in the second half and brought her team the gold medal. India grabbed the bronze after a surprising 1-0 victory over Korea.

China turned out to be the most consistent team at the Asian Games. The runner-up of the 2006 Champions Trophy played clean and effective hockey the entire tournament. Although China lost the match in the preliminary round against Japan, the Chinese team took revenge and took the gold medal home.

The final of the Asian Games was a very tactically played clash. After nobody was able to score in the first half, China took the lead just more than five minutes after halftime when Ye Ren converted a penalty corner. Japan was seeking the equalizer, but great defensive play of China kept the score at 1-0 until the final whistle.

Although China took the gold medal, Japan could be extremely happy with the silver one. Despite losing the final, Japan is qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games. This achievement will erase the disappointment of losing the final.

India surprised by winning the bronze medal after an unexpected win against tournament favorite Korea. Mamta Kharb fired home the only goal from a penalty corner after 16 minutes to give India their only medal in hockey after their men missed out on a semifinal place for the first time Asian Games history.

As China is the winner of the Asian Games, only Japan is directly qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games. India, Korea, Malaysia and Taipei will have another chance to qualify during one of the Olympic Qualifiers, to be held early 2008.

Action at the Asian Games will come to a conclusion on Thursday with the men’s final between China and Korea scheduled. Japan and Pakistan will fight for the bronze medal.

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