KARACHI: Pakistan hockey team’s nightmare at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup continued after hosts Malaysia sentenced the Greenshirts to their fourth successive defeat following a 1-0 win at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, Malaysia yesterday.
With the loss, any hopes that Pakistan had of finishing with a medal in the tournament evaporated as they now lie sixth in the seven-team tournament with only one win.
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Head coach Mohammad Khawaja Junaid rued the team’s missed chances and the inability of the side to handle the pressure. “We had many chances to score during the match but the players were not able to finish, which cost us dearly,” Junaid told The Express Tribune. “We knew that this match was crucial, but we were not able to handle the pressure the hosts applied.”
Malaysia attacked from the word go and were duly rewarded when in the third minute of the game, a quick attack forced Pakistan to concede a penalty corner, which Malaysia skipper Razie Rahim successfully converted.
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Following the goal, Pakistan tightened their game and tried to take the attack to their opponents but failed to score despite many attempts in the opposition area.
The aggressive strategy allowed Malaysia to counter, who were awarded two penalty corners in the second and third quarter but, fortunately for Pakistan, failed to convert.
Goalkeeper Butt, meanwhile, blamed his defenders for losing concentration on the penalty corner they conceded from. “The goal we conceded could have been stopped if the defenders put in a little more effort,” Butt told The Express Tribune. “We could have easily scored as well, but I don’t know what happened.”
In other matches, Australia defeated Japan 3-1, while India lost to New Zealand 2-1.
Pakistan will now play their last league match against Japan tomorrow, while Australia will face Canada and hosts Malaysia will take on India.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2016.
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