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India's Tushar Khandekar, left, looks to score a goal as South Korean players look on during their men's field hockey bronze medal match at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou. -Photo by AP

GUANGZHOU: Former champions India returned to the Asian Games men’s hockey podium after missing out four years ago when they defeated favourites South Korea 1-0 in the bronze medal play-off on Thursday.

Tushar Khandekar netted the winner four minutes into the second session as India dominated the lacklustre Koreans through the 70-minute encounter at the Aoti Hockey Centre.

India had not won an Asiad hockey medal for the first time at the 2006 Doha Games and paid the price when they failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics two years ago.

The eight-time Olympic champions had bagged Asian Games titles in 1966 and 1998.

India’s Spanish coach Jose Brasa, who contract is up for renewel after this match, said the bronze medal was not a just reward for his team.

“I think we were the best side in the competition, winning five of our six matches,” said Brasa. “I can’t say I am happy, but at least the boys will not return home empty-handed.”

India, who won all their four league matches, were knocked out by a Malaysian golden goal in the semi-final.

South Korea, winners at the last two editions in Busan and Doha, were denied a hat-trick when they lost to Pakistan in a penalty shoot-out in the other semi-final.

The last time the Koreans finished fourth was in Beijing in 1990. -AFP