KARACHI: Pakistan, after winning all their pool matches, were unable to overcome their first major challenge, losing to arch-rivals India 3-1 in the Boys Under-18 Asia Hockey Cup semi-final at the Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh yesterday.
The Greenshirts had three wins in three group matches as they topped Pool B and were flying high as they took on India, who had finished runners-up in Pool A.
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However, it was India who came out of the blocks quicker, taking the lead in the sixth minute and then doubling it a little while later to go into half-time 2-0 up.
India then ended the match as a contest when they made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute, condemning Pakistan to elimination.
The Colts managed to salvage some pride through a 63rd minute consolation goal scored by Amjad Ali from a penalty corner.
Pakistan coach Kamran Ashraf was understandably left bemoaning his players’ inability to handle big game pressure. “We could have won as on paper we are the better team with more skilled players but in matches like these, it all comes down to how you handle the pressure,” he said. “Whoever handles it better wins.”
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Ashraf, did however, add that this was a learning curve for the players and that they will be better off for the experience. “Our players have less international experience as compared to India’s so it isn’t surprising that they were unable to handle the pressure and lost the match,” he added. “I tried to motivate them and calm them down but they were facing India for the first time and the occasion got the better of them.”
In the other match, hosts Bangladesh defeated Chinese Taipei 6-1 to qualify for the final where they will face India on September 30, while Pakistan will play Chinese Taipei for the third-place playoff the same day.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2016.
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