Pakistan face Japan in Asian Champions Trophy

Published: October 23, 2018
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Pakistan will have to beat both Japan and Malaysia to sail easily into the last four. PHOTO COURTESY: ASIAN HOCKEY FEDERATION

Pakistan will have to beat both Japan and Malaysia to sail easily into the last four. PHOTO COURTESY: ASIAN HOCKEY FEDERATION

KARACHI  : Pakistan hockey captain, after an 8-1 win against Oman, is all set to take revenge from Japan as both teams face off in their fourth fixture of the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on Wednesday.

Pakistan won their campaign opener against South Korea 3-1, but lost their second match against India by the same margin. Following defeat, team coach Muhammad Saqlain left the team following an argument with the manager Hasan Sardar.

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The team went then faced a low-ranked Oman side under assistant coach Rehan Butt and won the match 8-1.

However, the real test of the team will be in their next fixture against Japan to whom they lost 1-0 in the semi-final match of the Asian Games.

Captain Muhammad Rizwan, who was leading the team in the Asian Games, told The Express Tribune that uncertainty in the coaching staff has affected the team, but still they are in good shape and concentrating on matches.

“In the last two months, the head coach [Roland Oltmans], who was working with us since the beginning of the year, left us and now our coach Saqlain left us. This does disturb the team but as we are players, our job is to just focus on the game and make the country proud,” he said.

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He added that there are always disagreements among players or the management but that has to be resolved within the team. “Leaving the team is not a good gesture. We are here to prepare for the big challenges coming in future and if we don’t stick together it will be difficult for us to bring a medal back,” he said.

Talking about the Asian Games match against Japan he said, “In the last match we played against them, we made a lot of mistakes. They are not a tough team to beat. We are much better than then and we can win this match.”

“They will have a psychological edge over us as they won when we last met, but even they know that we can bounce back and win. Our focus is on overcoming the mistakes we made in the Asian Games semi and play as one unit. We have to show the fans and the coaches that the hard work they did has not been wasted,” he said.

Pakistan are currently on number three in the event rankings with six points, after two wins and one defeat, while India and Malaysia are number one and two respectively, both having nine points each. After facing Japan, the team will face Malaysia in their last league match before the top four teams qualify for the semi-finals.

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