After a stunning loss to South Korea that ended their race for the title, Pakistan failed in their bid to even secure fifth spot at the Hockey World League (HWL) in Johor Bahru, after going down to Malaysia 3-1 in their playoff yesterday.
Despite finishing on top position in Group B, Pakistan slipped down and will now contest the seventh-eighth position playoff against South Africa today.
The defeats mean Pakistan will now have to win the Asia Cup, due to take place in September, to confirm their place at next year’s Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands.
In yesterday’s match, Pakistan conceded their first goal in the 14th minute as Malaysia’s Muhammad Razie Adbul Rahim converted a penalty-corner.
Shafqat Rasool equalised two minutes later, bringing Pakistan back into the game, only to be disappointed in the 19th minute, when goal-keeper Imran hit an own goal.
Malaysia continued to dominate the match, as they extended their lead 3-1 through Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil just three minutes into the second-half.
However, Pakistan failed to equalise, a disappointing result after they started off the campaign in a much better fashion.
In another playoff, Japan beat South Africa on penalty shootout and will now play Malaysia for fifth place.
Both teams ended the second-half with a 2-2 draw, with Japan winning a bizarre shootout which saw nine out of the ten attempts fail.
Meanwhile, Argentina defeated England 3-1 to book their place in the final.
Poor show criticised
Pakistan’s performance drew criticism from former Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh who believed the players’ attitude and lack of professionalism in the field resulted in the dismal campaign.
He also stated that the inconsistency of forwards and a poor defence were additional reasons for the back-to-back defeats.
“I think the players were not concentrating; the forwards failed to convert the penalty corners and the goal-keeper needed to be changed for the last two matches,” Shaikh told The Express Tribune. “I’m disappointed because they lost the quarter-final against South Korea committing the same mistakes. Koreans didn’t play well; it was Pakistan that lacked the fire to fight back.”
He further emphasised that seniors like Shakeel Abbasi and Muhammad Waseem are now past their prime and it was time to lay-off the older players in order to prepare a team for the Asia Cup in September.
“So far, all the senior players have disappointed us in the tournament. They seem out of their depth.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.