Pakistan finish eighth at Junior Hockey World Cup

Arbaz Ahmed scored all three goals for Pakistan

News Desk December 17, 2023


Pakistan’s FIH Junior World Cup campaign came to an end on Saturday with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of deposed champions Argentina condemning them to eighth place.

Drag-flick specialist Arbaz Ahmed scored all three goals for Pakistan, who were level at 2-2 by the end of the first half, only for Argentina to score twice in the space of five minutes in the third quarter to pull clear at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“We were poor defensively,” Pakistan’s Dutch head coach Roelant Oltmans told reporters at the post-match press conference. “My players must improve their basics, even though [eight of them] have played for the senior team.

“We lose ball possession quite easily, and our turnovers are not good. There are things we need to work on ahead of future tournaments. However, I don’t blame my players; they are still a work in progress. The players need to be creative, and their fitness levels need to be improved.”

Oltmans said the defensive collapse had been haunting Pakistan since the quarter-finals, where they went down 4-2 to France, before losing 7-5 to Australia in the fifth-to-eighth place classification match.

“We played our best hockey against the Netherlands, Belgium, and New Zealand to finish second in the pool,” he said. “We didn’t concede many goals in the group matches. However, despite netting 10 goals in three knockout stage matches, we let in 17 goals. If we were defensively better, we could have performed better in the tournament.

“[In the 1-1 draw] against Belgium, our defence was outstanding. However, we collapsed from the quarter-finals onwards. This was compounded by the absence of the injury to our first-choice goalkeeper Ali Raza, who did not play in the knockout stage.”

In a keenly-contested first quarter, Tomas Ruiz and Arbaz traded penalty corner goals in the sixth and 12th minute respectively.

Ruiz converted another drag flick to put Argentina ahead in the 21st, only for Arbaz to respond five minutes later; this time from a penalty stroke.

But Argentina moved into full throttle in the third quarter and went ahead 4-2 through field goals by Ramiro Infanzon (39th), and Bautista Capurro (44th).

Pakistan reduced the deficit when Arbaz completing his hat-trick in the 49th minute from a penalty corner but goals in the 50th and 56th minutes by Ignacio Persoglio and Juan Fernandez sealed the result.

Later on Saturday, Germany were crowned champions for a record-extending seventh time after they edged France 2-1 in the final.

Jules Verrier fired in a field goal to give France the lead in the 17th minute but Germany hit back to level matters through a field goal by Jan Cordes in the 32nd before Liam Holdermann netted the decisive goal eight minutes later.


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