Crescent Kashmir

Pakistan remain in semis race with 2-1 victory over China

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CHENNAI: Goals from Mohammad Khan and Afraz helped Pakistan record a narrow 2-1 victory over China to stay in the race for the semifinals of the Asian Champions Trophy here at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium on Monday.

China after this defeat were knocked out of the race for the last-four stage.

In the first quarter, Pakistan earned a couple of penalty corners but failed to convert. It was followed by a field goal chance from both sides, but to no avail, as the quarter ended without any goal.

Five minutes into the second quarter, Pakistan earned a penalty corner and Khan converted it to put his team ahead. While China challenged the goal through video referral for dangerous height, the TV umpire ruled it in favour of Pakistan.

Pakistan, after getting a couple of more chances including a penalty corner, led 1-0 at the half-time.

Two minutes after resumption, China earned a penalty corner, which was converted by Jiesheng Gao to draw level.

At this moment, Pakistan’s Ahtisham Aslam received a yellow card, while Abdul Rehman was green-carded.

JAPAN’S Yuma Nagai (C) fights for the ball with Malaysian players during their Asian Champions Trophy match.—AFP
JAPAN’S Yuma Nagai (C) fights for the ball with Malaysian players during their Asian Champions Trophy match.—AFP


Still, Pakistan in the 39 minute restored their lead, thanks to some passing game through skipper Umar Bhutta and Rana Abdul Waheed before Afraz angled it into the goal.

With Pakistan up 2-1 at the end of the third quarter, China switched to more possession and passing, while Pakistan began to press high.

But the tactics didn’t seem to work for the Chinese, as Pakistan managed to hold on to the slender lead to take home the three points at full-time.

Pakistan take on hosts and arch-rivals India on Wednesday in a potentially high-voltage match, while China face Japan in their last fixture.

Meanwhile commenting on Wednesday’s clash, Pakistan head coach Mohammad Saqlain said his team were aware of India’s weak areas and they had to play smart hockey against the hosts.

“Harmanpreet Singh and other centre forwards are some of the best players in the world. We are aware of their weakness as well, but we have to be smart against them,” Saqlain told Press Trust of India on Monday.

In another match, Malaysia fought off a late surge from Japan to secure a 3-1 win and advance to the semi-finals.

Najmi Jazlan (13th minute, penalty corner), Ashran Hamsani (37th) and Shello Silverius (59th) struck for Malaysia.

After a flurry of missed chances, Japan finally managed to score a consolation goal through Niwa Takuma (59th).


Later on Monday, India, who have already qualified for the semi-finals, continued with their impressive show in the continental event with a nervy 3-2 victory over South Korea.

With 10 points from three wins and one draw, India are leading the table.

Nilakanta Sharma gave India lead with his sixth-minute strike. Sharma was at the right place as he put the ball into the Korea net after Sukhjeet, having received the ball from Sumit Shamsher Singh, dribbled past two defenders and passed it to the scorer.

The Koreans came back with the equaliser six minutes later with Kim Sunghyun driving the ball past Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, who was playing in his 100th international game. The assist was provided by Manjae Jung.

India, however, regained their lead as Harmanpreet Singh struck off a penalty corner in the 23rd minute, hitting it low to the right of the goalkeeper.

Mandeep Singh made it 3-1 with his 33rd minute strike, consolidating India’s position in the match.

Yang Jihun pulled one back for Korea in the 58th minute but India held on to the slim lead till the final hooter.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2023

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