KARACHI: Pakistan paid heavily for missed chances as an in-form New Zealand side registered a 3-1 win over the Asian Games champions to go top of the standings at the Azlan Shah Cup underway in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The Greenshirts, who defeated Argentina in their opening match, were on the back foot right from the start as New Zealand continued an impressive run that saw them register thumping wins in their opening two matches.
The Black Sticks, who beat India and Argentina, dominated the first-half with Ryan Archibald scoring the first goal in the eighth minute. The lead was doubled by Andy Hayward who converted a penalty-corner just two minutes later.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Pakistan needed to make every chance count. However, despite numerous opportunities, the Greenshirts failed to capitalise including a sitter in the 13th minute when none of the two strikers failed to make a good cross from Muhammad Waqas count. Pakistan also missed two penalty-corners with captain Sohail Abbas and Mohammad Imran failing to reduce the lead.
New Zealand, who led 2-0 at half-time, then extended their lead when Nick Wilson converted a 39th minute penalty-corner.
Pakistan switched gear and the move paid off when Haseem Khan scored in the 44th minute. The team got another two chances but Waqas and Shafqat failed to capitalise, much to the disappointment of captain Abbas.
“The team comprises a lot of young players who are full of energy, but in the end it came down to availing chances,” said the captain. “But I’m hopeful of a better show in the remaining matches.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan head coach Akhtar Rasool has called on his players to learn from their mistakes. “Our strikers missed a lot of chances,” said Rasool. “We are playing with a young side ahead of the London Olympics. But the players need to learn from their mistakes if they are to improve.”
In another match, Argentina registered a 4-3 win over Korea, who will face Pakistan today.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.
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