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JAKARTA: It was the unlucky day for Pakistan hockey on Thursday (May 26) which saw the Green-shirts losing spots both in the Asia Cup top-four and in the World Cup which will be staged by India next January.
In their last pool show against Japan Pakistan needed a win but they lost 3-2 mainly due to some huge blunders made by the management which was a sort of humiliation for the country. Despite losing to Japan, Pakistan still could make it to the World Cup but India, who needed 16 goals against Indonesia in their final pool clash, achieved that goal and booked a ticket both for the Asia Cup top four as well for the global event as hosts.
In the all-important match against Japan, two Pakistan goals were disallowed. Pakistan’s fourth goal converted by Junaid Manzoor was disallowed as the umpire pointed out that there were 12 Pakistan players on the field instead of 11.
Later, when Umar Bhutta struck a goal, the umpire disallowed it following a video replay as Waheed Rana was seen hitting the keeper before Bhutta scored the goal.
Throughout the 60 minutes, Pakistan were seen playing a chasing game. Japan were first to make an impression as they scored two goals in the first quarter. But Pakistan bounced back to reduce the margin through Ijaz on a deflection in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Japan restored their lead only to see Pakistan bouncing back to reduce the margin through Mubashir Ali’s penalty-corner goal.
From then on, Pakistan changed their strategy and were seen playing attacking game that totally pinned down Japan. They got no less than fifteen goal-scoring opportunities against the Asian Champions during the last 25 minutes of the match but failed to sound the board.
Some dazzling and exciting game was on display from the new-look Pakistan team as Japan faced a barrage of attacks. The Asian champions were seen playing defensive hockey against an all-out attack.
Junaid and Ejaz missed a couple of open goal-scoring opportunities and so were others during an exciting display of hockey by the Green-shirts during the last fifteen minutes.
“Our team had done everything to win or pull a draw against Japan. I have never seen Pakistan playing with such authority, yet we ended up on the losing side,” manager Khawaja Junaid said.