KARACHI: Despite a spate of injuries, Pakistan remains confident of reaching the final of the second Asian Champions Trophy underway in Doha, Qatar.
With India already in the final, the greenshirts need a huge win over Japan in their last league match of the six-nation tournament today.
Malaysia, the other team in contention for a place in final, also need a big-margin win over India in their last league match.
Pakistan’s team management is convinced that they will face their arch-rivals in the final tomorrow.
“We are still the favorites,” coach Hanif Khan told The Express Tribune from Doha. “What we need is a victory by a margin of four to five goals to secure a place in the final.
“It will be very difficult for Malaysia to achieve the same results against an experienced and in-form Indian side.”
Speaking after Monday’s 2-1 loss to India, the coach said his team paid the price for committing avoidable mistakes.
“I won’t say it was a bad performance overall. We dominated them for the best part of the match but we made mistakes in defence besides missing too many chances. We also won five penalty-corners but failed to take advantage.
“We repeated the same errors we made against Malaysia when we drew 3-3 with them.”
However, Khan said Pakistan is working to improve their performance to ensure a chance to play for the trophy.
Five Pakistan players battling injuries
Hanif said that five Pakistan players including captain Mohammad Imran were facing injury problems ahead of the match against Japan.
“Imran hurt his left hand during the match against Malaysia because of which he had to sit out the game against India. His hand is swelled up but thankfully scans reveal no signs of a fracture.”
Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Rizwan, Fareed Ahmed and Shafqat Rasool are the other players plagued by injuries. But Khan hoped most of them would recover in time to play against Japan.
“They are just exhausted. The team got little respite after their Australia tour but hopefully they will be fit soon.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2012.