IPOH, MALAYSIA: Pakistan beat hosts Malaysia 3-2 in the final league match to enter the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia where they will take on world champions Australia today.
The team was helped by the fact that Great Britain, who had been in the running for a finals berth, lost 3-1 to South Korea in an earlier match.
Pakistan scored the opening goal in the eighth minute through ace penalty-corner specialist Sohail Abbas who sent a rasping drag into the net. Muhammad Waqas made it 2-0 with a stinging drive from the top of the circle in the 21st minute.
Malaysia struck in the last minute of the first session when Hafiz Hanafi picked up a through-ball in the goalmouth to send a reverse hit past goal-keeper Imran Shah. Malaysia pressed hard in the second session, forcing two penalty corners but failed to capitalise.
Shakeel Abbasi made matters worse for the hosts when he scored in the 51st minute to give Pakistan a convincing 3-1 lead. Malaysia, however, came back strongly as Muhammad Razie sent a firm drive into the board to make it 2-3. From there on, the Malaysians pressed hard but failed to breach the Pakistan defence which will face a stiff test against Australia today.
In the first game, Great Britain had only themselves to blame for a lethargic display as they went down 3-1 to joint-defending champions South Korea. Great Britain’s lone goal came in the 20th minute by Mathew Daly while South Korea scored at regular intervals with Yoon Sung Hoon scoring in the 10th minute, Jang Jong Hyun in the 23rd minute and You Hyo Sik scoring the final goal in the 41st minute.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.
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