Shakeel Abbasi, Pakistan’s two-goal hero from the shock 2-1 win over Germany in the Champions Trophy quarter-final, has put forward a simple formula for the team if it wants to win today’s semi-final against the Netherlands: convert as many chances as you can.
Despite scoring a brace, Abbasi himself was guilty of wasting several opportunities in the quarter-final after wasting chances in the earlier matches too. But with Pakistan’s first appearance in the Champions Trophy final since 1998 at stake, Abbasi knows his side will be underdogs but not lacking confidence.
“After our win over Germany, I’ve been eagerly waiting for this match,” Abbasi told The Express Tribune on the eve of the semi-final. “I want to score a hat-trick and take Pakistan into the final, also grabbing the man-of-the-match award for the second time in the process. We do have a less experienced forward line compared to the Netherlands but our confidence will more than make up for that.”
History favouring the Dutch
Pakistan have lost 21 out of the 33 Champions Trophy matches they have played against the Dutch, winning just seven. However, according to Abbasi, it will come down to the team that takes its chances – the Netherlands have scored 92 goals against Pakistan while the Greenshirts have managed just 51.
“The real issue with our team is the lack of conversion. That’s why the less opportunities we miss against the Dutch, the higher our chances will be to make it to the final. And that’s what we need to work towards.”
The Netherlands defeated Pakistan 3-1 in the opening match of the tournament, a loss that Greenshirts’ coach wants the players to forget when stepping onto the turf. Pakistan beat Belgium 2-0 but lost to Australia 1-0, finishing third in the group.
“We need to forget what happened in the opening match,” said coach Akhtar Rasool. “What we must realise is that the Dutch will be under more pressure than us as they would’ve realised it’s not that easy to beat us anymore. I’m sure if we stick to the plan, we’ll knock out the Dutch as well.”
India take on holders Australia
Meanwhile, the other semi-final will be between defending champions Australia and India who have never made it to the final of this event.
Australia beat England 2-0 while India scraped past Belgium 1-0 in their quarter-finals on Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2012.
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