KARACHI: Spectators will be treated to the best brand of South Asian hockey on Thursday when reigning champions Pakistan take on long-time foes India in an exhilarating men's Asian Games gold medal match.
The final, which will confirm direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics for the winners, will be a replay of the group-stage encounter between both nations which Pakistan won 2-1 to India.
“The match between the two South Asian giants always puts pressure on the players,” said skipper Muhammad Imran while talking to The Express Tribune from Korea.
On the other hand, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh was worried by the failure of his strikers to score against Malaysia in Tuesday's semi-final which ended in a 0-0 draw before Pakistan edged ahead 6-5 in the tie-breaker.
"We played better than them but just could not score," said Sheikh, a former striker himself. "We don't want to make the same mistake again.
"Fans love an India-Pakistan game. I am sure the final will be exciting."
The Pakistan rugby team lost to Philippines 59-0 in their last Group B match at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Field on Wednesday.
The national team also lost to Malaysia 36-0 in their play-off for the ninth place and will now take on Saudi Arabia in the match for the 11th spot today.
Hong Kong, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Japan have managed to reach the semi-finals of the men’s event.
This was Pakistan rugby’s debut in the Asian Games, and according to Pakistan Sports Board Director Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera, the country was not playing in the hopes of winning a medal.
Pakistan will take on Iran in the men’s kabaddi semi-final today, with the team having already confirmed a bronze by reaching the last-four round.
“It’s going to be tough fight, but we’re hoping for a silver medal,” said Ganjera.
Pakistan are set to begin their karate campaign at the Asian Games today, where Asian Champion and US Open title-holder Saadi Abbas will be up against Yemen’s Saleh Ahmed Saleh Al Radaei in the 67kg event.
Baz Muhammad will participate in the -75 kg category and Pakistan’s Kulsoom Hazara will compete in the women’s quarter-final against Nepal’s Bimala Tamang.
“We have hopes from Abbas,” said Ganjera. “We are quite confident because he has the required exposure and has competed in international events before.”
Pakistan’s Atief Archibald Arshad lost to Sen Qiao 14-5 in the -80kg taekwondo round-of-16 match at the Ganghwa Dolmens Gymnasium.
The Pakistan Volleyball team secured 11th place in the men’s team event at the Asian Games after defeating Saudi Arabia 3-0 in the men’s classification11th-12th place match.
Muhammad Rameez lost to Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan Daronkolaei by 4-0 in the men's singles table tennis 1/32 elimination match, while Muhammad Asim Qureshi lost to Chinese Taipei Chih Yuan Chuang by the same score.
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