Pakistan showed no signs of getting bogged down by their recent 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Netherlands, as the Greenshirts came back strongly to hold the hosts to a 2-2 draw in the first of the two-match Test series.
The tourists drew first-blood through Mohammad Rashid before the Dutch levelled just before the half-time whistle.
Netherlands hit back hard in the second-half, starting aggressively and made repeated scoring attempts that eventually yielded a positive result as they grabbed a 2-1 lead.
However, the tenacity of the Greenshirts paid off as they converted a penalty-corner successfully, courtesy short-corner specialist Sohail Abbas, who scored minutes before the final hooter.
Team manager Khwaja Junaid was delighted at the much improved show put on by his team, after a string of poor performances during the tour.
“It was overall a better performance by the team,” Junaid told The Express Tribune from Amsterdam.
“The players went into the ground with a fresh approach keeping their Four-Nations loss aside. We made fewer mistakes, which is a good sign.”
Pakistan will now take on the hosts in the final and decisive match of the rubber today, which Junaid hoped the team will win to seal the series. “We still need to overcome some flaws,” he said. “If we manage to avoid those, there’s a possibility of a series-win.”
‘PHF ruined important Europe tour’
Meanwhile, Olympian Samiullah Khan was not convinced with the results from the team’s European sojourn, saying that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had ruined the important training tour by selecting senior players and ignoring upcoming talent.
“The PHF took a wise step by arranging the tour but failed to take advantage of it,” said Samiullah. “It was a training tour and the federation committed a mistake by retaining the seniors for the tour.
“We have important assignments ahead including the Champions Trophy and Olympics and we should’ve given younger players a chance.”
The national team includes former captains Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt, besides veterans Abbas, Mohammad Waseem, Salman Akbar and seasoned campaigner Mohammad Imran, who is leading the side.
“Such players don’t require experience,” said Samiullah. “Instead, the PHF should have selected youngsters who are our future. They’ve been deprived of valuable experience of playing international matches in European conditions. “
The legendary player felt that the PHF opted for positive results from the tour instead of preparing a team for the future.
“The PHF wanted good results by including the seniors,” he said. “They failed in this bid too after defeats to lowly-ranked France and Belgium. I’ll not be impressed with Pakistan’s performance at the tour even if we beat the Dutch.”
“PHF took a wise step by
arranging the tour but it failed to take advantage of it. It was a training tour and the
federation committed a
mistake by retaining the seniors for the tour.”
Team manager Khwaja Junaid
“It was overall a better performance by the team. The players went into the ground with a fresh mind keeping their Four-Nations loss aside. We made fewer mistakes, which is a good sign.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2011.
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