(LEAD) (Asiad) S. Korea handball coach calls for complete effort in upcoming final

South Korea women’s handball head coach Henrik Signell wants nothing less than a complete effort at both ends in the upcoming Asian Games gold medal contest.

South Korea defeated China 30-23 in the semifinals Tuesday at Zhejiang Gongshang University Sports Centre in Hangzhou and moved within a win of winning its eighth Asiad title in nine editions of the Asian Games.

Japan and Kazakhstan were to play in the other semifinals match after South Korea’s win Tuesday, and Signell said he expected Japan to be in the gold medal match, set for Thursday back at the same gym. Japan did win handily, 40-22.

“We need to continue to do all the things we need to do to play good handball,” Signell said at his postmatch press conference. “We need to be good in all parts, defense, attack, fast break, because Japan is a very good team. Overall, we just need to be good.”

Women’s handball made its Asiad debut in 1990, and South Korea has failed to win gold just once — in 2010 in Guangzhou, China.

Signell took over South Korea in April this year, and he said he has enjoyed working with an industrious group of players.

“The Korean team, they work hard for each other, especially on defense. Modern defense needs help from each other,” the Swedish coach said. “They also play fast, sometimes too fast. It’s something we talk about to find the right balance, when to play fast and when to play a little more slowly. We need to be more physical, because we’re not so tall and heavy. We have to rely on our speed but also try to improve physical play.”

Signell said he expected a difficult contest against China, because he had been impressed with the way China pushed Japan hard before losing 26-25 in the preliminary round.

“They have improved a lot. We knew before the game that it would be a tough one,” Signell said. “I am satisfied with especially the second half.”

Signell said he feels South Korea plays “smarter now” since he took over the program.

“I think we have more different solutions, in both attack and defense,” he added. “I also think it’s more difficult to analyze us.”

Signell’s counterpart, Zheng Yongli, conceded defeat, saying the talent gap between the teams was too much to overcome.

“During our two days off before this match, we tried to find ways to capitalize on our strengths and exploit the other team’s weaknesses,” Zheng said. “But we made some big mistakes in the second half. I think our players still lack experience, and we couldn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We weren’t able to execute our plans.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency