KARACHI: Pakistan Whites are all set to take on their Indian counterparts in the final of the South Asian Games at the Tayebulla Hockey Stadium in Guwahati, India on Friday with one eye on the glory of defeating their arch-rivals and the other on completing a hat-trick of titles.
Pakistan are fielding a strong side with several of the national players in the squad, while India field a relatively inexperienced squad with only two senior players in the team.
With a 2-1 win already in the bag over their arch-rivals in the group stages, Pakistan are confident of defending their crown.
“We have had a good tournament so far and the team is high on confidence,” captain Mohammad Irfan told The Express Tribune after his side oversaw a 3-0, 2-1 and 6-0 win over Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. “We are hopeful of a win as we have already defeated India in the group stages.”
Meanwhile, forward Mohammad Arslan Qadir, who has consistently been effective against India as he scored both the goals in the 2-1 group-stage win and slotted the winner in the 4-3 win over India in the 2014 Champions Trophy final, is all pumped up and ready to repeat his match-winning performance in yet another final against the same opponent.
“I will put in everything I have, all my skills and energy, to ensure we come out on top,” Qadir told The Express Tribune. “The juniors are certainly under a bit of pressure to face India in a final but the seniors are helping ease their nerves. We know we will get some beef from the crowd but we will be able to handle it.”
The Greenshirts are favourites to lift the crown as they are currently the only side to remain unbeaten in the tournament and have a historical advantage of defeating their rivals twice at the same stage of the Games — in the 2004 and 2010 finals.
Pakistan bag 14 more medals on day six
By claiming three silver and 11 bronze medals on the sixth day of the Games, Pakistan took their medal tally to 72 and remained on third position, with a total of seven gold, 22 silver and 43 bronze medals.
India lead with 237 medals — 139 gold, 78 silver, 20 bronze — followed by Sri Lanka with 151 medals — 25 gold, 50 silver, 76 bronze.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2016.