Pakistan hockey team regrouped quickly after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Great Britain, edging out South Africa 5-4 in a crucial Pool A clash to keep their London Olympics medals hopes alive.
The Greenshirts staged a remarkable comeback to score twice in the final six minutes to notch up their second win in four matches. The three-time Olympic gold medallists now have seven points.
A sea-saw contest against SA
Waseem Ahmed scored the decisive goal in the final moments to set up a perfect ending for the Greenshirts after captain Sohail Abbas made it 4-4 with a left-drag flick for his 348th goal.
Earlier, Wade Paton, striking on a rebound from Pakistan goal-keeper Imran Shah gave his side the lead in the third minute of the second session after the score was level 3-3 at the break.
3-3 in first half
South Africa dominated the start of the match and took an early lead when Thornton McDade struck in the second minute. The Greenshirts had to struggle for 18 minutes to find the equaliser with Haseem Khan availing the chance created by Shafqat Rasool.
Justin Reid-Ross converted a penalty corner after two minutes to regain the lead but it was soon undone by Rasool.
Haseem then put his side ahead for the first time in the 24th minute when he completed his brace on a rebound from Shakeel Abbasi’s attempt.
Reid-Ross scored to avoid his side heading to the break with a first-half deficit, converting another penalty-corner just before the half-time whistle.
‘We outclassed SA in field play’
Meanwhile, Pakistan team coach Khwaja Junaid saw the win as a breakthrough in his team’s campaign.
“We outclassed South Africa in field play,” Junaid told The Express Tribune. “They’re strong opponents and our performance has given us confidence. It’s a fine comeback after the loss against Britain.
“The boys showed nerves by staging a comeback again and again against South Africa.”
Junaid was also happy with the players’ fitness levels.
“It’s the team that was criticised for fitness but look how they played in the final stages.”
Belgium draw with New Zealand 1-1
Earlier, Belgium dominated the match against New Zealand, but were almost made to pay when the Black Sticks came back strongly toward the end.
Unable to convert their domination in to goals in the first half, Belgium then went ahead in the 48th minute when Tom Boom seized a half chance. Six minutes later, New Zealand equalised through Nick Wilson’s fine field goal.
In another Pool B clash, Korea downed India, who are yet to register a win after four matches, 4-1. (with additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.