KARACHI: Pakistan needlessly dropped points in their second fixture of the 2017 Asia Cup as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Japan in Dhaka.
A day after thrashing hosts Bangladesh 7-0, the Greenshirts were a good bet to collect another win, even more so because Japan had suffered a 5-1 spanking at the hands of India in their opening fixture.
A Pakistan win seemed a forgone conclusion when Arsalan Qadir successfully converted a penalty corner in the 16th minute to put the four-time world champions 1-0 up.
But Japan had other plans as they hit back soon after via Kenta Tanaka’s field goal in the 22nd minute.
A minute before half-time, the script completely flipped when Heita Yoshihara gave Japan an unlikely but not undeserved lead.
The experience of trailing for the first time in the tournament threw Pakistan attackers into a state of frenzy, although Japanese backline kept them at bay.
This, however, changed in the final quarter when the experienced Muhammad Umar Bhutta finally found the back of the net to leave the match level at 2-2.
In the final 10 minutes, both teams tried their best to edge ahead but a winner was not to be found.
“We tried to play the same way we did against the hosts but made some mistakes, and Japan also played well,” Pakistan captain Muhammad Irfan told The Express Tribune.
With two points dropped, Pakistan will now have to avoid defeat against arch-rivals India in Sunday’s blockbuster encounter in order to qualify for the next round.
“We have a tough match next where we can’t afford to make these mistakes again if we want to qualify for the next round,” added Irfan.