Asian Games: India final hurdle towards gold, Olympics qualification

The Greenshirts will face their arch-rivals in the men’s hockey final


Our Correspondent September 30, 2014

KARACHI: Defending champions Pakistan made it to the final of the 2014 Asian Games men’s hockey tournament with their fifth consecutive win on Tuesday, where arch-rivals India await.

Midfielder Rashid Mehmood fired home the last penalty in the shoot-out against Malaysia after both teams were unable to score in regulation time at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium, Incheon. The deadlock continued after extra-time as the 15 minutes proved insufficient to separate the two sides.

Muhammad Waqas, Abdul Haseem Khan and Mehmood then all scored twice each in the shootouts to send Pakistan through, edging out their opponents 6-5 in the penalty shoot-out.

“I have never played such a nerve-racking game in my entire life,” Mehmood, who stroked in the final penalty, told The Express Tribune from Korea. “When the penalties began, my only thought was of my parents back home, and I think it is their prayers that helped me and Pakistan win.”

The hockey team’s performances have improved considerably since the appointment of a new coaching team, headed by veteran Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh, and they may consider themselves favourites to claim gold over arch-rivals India. "Pakistan must play an energetic but composed game against India, just like the one they played in the group matches to defeat them," said Sheikh.

Pakistan will qualify directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics if they are able to win the final and claim the gold. "Defending our title and hence making it to the next Olympics is our main target,” said the Olympian. “We are just a match away now.”

Pakistan will face India in tomorrow’s final, who defeated South Korea 1-0 in the competition’s first semi-final yesterday.

The two defeated semi-finalists, Malaysia and South Korea, will now vie for the bronze tomorrow. 

Shooting

Usman Chand finished 14th and Khurram Inam 23rd with 115 and 112 points respectively, out of 39 contenders, in the skeet men’s qualification round. 

Table Tennis

Saleem Abbas Kazmi and Muhammad Asiam Qureshi have been knocked out of the tournament after they lost to Japan in their men’s double round of 32 knockout match. 

Volleyball

The Pakistan volleyball team lost to Chinese Taipei 3-0 in the men’s semi-final for ninth to 12th places.

Boxing

Sanaullah’s unbeaten run in the 91kg heavyweight boxing event came to an abrupt end with a defeat in the quarter-finals at the Seonhak Gymnasium.

Sanaullah was the second boxer from Pakistan, after Muhammad Waseem, who was hoping to win a medal in Incheon. However, he lost his quarter-final bout to South Korea’s Namhyeong Park 3-0 after three rounds.

After Sanullah’s exit, Waseem is now Pakistan’s only remaining medal hope in boxing. The 27-year-old confirmed a bronze medal after he won his 52kg quarter-final bout on Monday.

He will now take on Uzbek boxer Shakhobidin Zoirov on Thursday in the semi-finals.

Kabaddi

Despite losing their last Group A match to arch-rivals India 23-11 at the Songdo Global University Gymnasium, Pakistan qualified for the semis of the men’s kabaddi event.

India started strongly and took a healthy 17-4 lead in the first half and sealed the win despite Pakistan’s efforts to contain their opponents 7-6 in the second.

India and Pakistan have qualified for the semi-finals as the top two teams from Group A. The two teams now wait to find out who their semi-final opponents will be as Group B matches will conclude Wednesday.

Rugby

Pakistan began their campaign at the rugby sevens event with two defeats in the preliminary round.

The team lost their opening Group B match to Hong Kong 72-0 at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Field, before succumbing 48-0 to China.

Pakistan will now play their last group match against Philippines on Wednesday.

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