KARACHI: Pakistan were given a reality check by defending champions New Zealand at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup yesterday as the Black Sticks defeated the Greenshirts 5-3 in Ipoh, Malaysia to maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament.
This was New Zealand’s first win in the tournament, having drawn 3-3 and 1-1 with Malaysia and Canada respectively.
Pakistan had defeated Canada 3-1 in their opening match and, buoyed by that win, applied the same tactics against New Zealand. The decision, however, backfired as the Greenshirts failed to contain their opponents and ended up conceding five goals.
We are playing to win, says Pakistan hockey coach
However, despite the loss, head coach Mohammad Khawaja Junaid was happy with his team’s performance. “We executed the game plan well but missed a host of chances,” Junaid told The Express Tribune. “But I am glad that we were able to play with such intensity. Scoring three goals against a top team is an achievement for us.”
Junaid, meanwhile, rued Pakistan’s inability to defend penalty corners as the Greenshirts conceded three of their five goals from penalty corners.
“Penalty corners are where every team tries to score. We need to be more consistent when defending them. We must address this weakness and rectify it if we are to reach the finals,” he added.
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Pakistan coach unimpressed by New Zealand
Nic Woods scored a brace, while Russell Kane, Stephen Jenness and New Zealand skipper Simon Child added one goal each to the team’s scoreline. For Pakistan Mohammad Arslan Qadir scored twice, while Mohammad Irfan Junior scored one goal.
Pakistan skipper Mohammad Irfan Senior praised his side’s resilience in the last quarter but felt the team could have done better in the first three quarters.
“We were extremely good in the last quarter but the same level of performance was needed in the first three quarters,” Irfan Sr told The Express Tribune. “We will try to be better in the next match.”
Canada won their first ever international match when they defeated Japan 3-1 as Mark Pearson scored the opening goal for Canada in the 34th minute followed by Gabriel Ho Garcia’s strike a minute later.
Japan skipper Hiroki Sakamoto pulled one back for his side in the 42nd minute but his Canadian counterpart, Scott Tupper, took the game out of Japand’s reach when he scored the winner three minutes later.
Meanwhile, Pakistan now face world champions Australia today.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2016.
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