Shoot-out star Akbar lifts Pakistan into hockey final

Published: November 23, 2010
Emotionally charged Pakistani players celebrate their victory over South Korea. PHOTO: AFP

Emotionally charged Pakistani players celebrate their victory over South Korea. PHOTO: AFP

GUANGZHOU: Pakistan goalkeeper Salman Akbar saved the last shot of a penalty shoot-out against South Korea to steer his team into the Asian Games men’s hockey final on Tuesday.

Both teams were locked 1-1 in 70 minutes of regulation time and failed to break the impasse after 15 minutes of extra-time in an absorbing semi-final at the Aoti Hockey Centre.

Waqas Muhammad put Pakistan ahead in the 22nd minute, before Kang Moon-Kyu drew level four minutes into the second session.

When the first five penalty shots produced a 3-3 deadlock, the sudden death rule was applied, which produced even more drama.

Sohail Abbas and Jang Jong-hyun saw their shots saved, but Haseem Khan scored off the next to put Pakistan 4-3 ahead.

Jang Jong-ho stepped in for the next shot amid mounting tension and his feeble push was easily saved by Akbar to carry Pakistan into their first Asiad final since 1990.

“I have never played such a nerve-wrecking game in my life,” said Akbar, a veteran of 300 internationals.

“When the penalties began, my only thought was of my parents back home and I think it is their prayers which helped me and Pakistan win.

“This win will certainly boost our morale for the final.”

Pakistan await the winner of Tuesday’s second semi-final between India and Malaysia in Thursday’s gold medal match.

Pakistan, who won the last of their seven Asian Games gold medals in Beijing in 1990, have not bagged a major title since the World Cup triumph in Sydney in 1994.

Zeeshan Ashraf’s men are desperate to make amends in Guangzhou after finishing an embarrassing last at the World Cup and lowly sixth at the Commonwealth Games this year.

The Koreans had the only penalty corner in the first half, which was wasted, and a swift Pakistani counter-attack saw Waqas pounce on a pass from the left and sound the boards from the top of the circle.

Veteran Abbas, the world’s leading scorer with 312 goals, missed three successive penalty corners early in the second half.

Pakistan were reduced to 10 men when Muhammad Imran was sent off with a yellow card, and the Koreans seized the advantage when Kang pushed the ball in past Akbar to make it 1-1.

South Korea had a chance to seal victory when they earned a penalty corner in extra-time, but Jang’s stinging shot was saved by defender Muhammad Rashid.

The Koreans, whose hopes of bagging a hat-trick of titles ended, will return on Thursday to fight for the bronze medal.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Owais
    Nov 23, 2010 - 2:35PM

    Bravo. Jeet k hi ana ab!Recommend

  • Farooq
    Nov 23, 2010 - 2:56PM

    Keep it up guys !!! well doneRecommend

  • Minal
    Nov 23, 2010 - 2:57PM

    Well done Pakistan!
    Inshallah Pak will take the Gold! :D Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 23, 2010 - 2:57PM

    Jeet k GEO.Recommend

  • Danish
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:01PM

    best of luck to pakistanRecommend

  • Mast mula
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:03PM

    well done boyzRecommend

  • Zuhair
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:20PM

    Well done boys. You really made my day. I watched the game live and the passion was really there. Saw the boys crying when they won. Best of luck for the finals. We will pray for you. Go for the gold.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:21PM

    Good News for Pakistan Inshallah we win final Recommend

  • shahid salim
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:26PM

    Great news for hockey fans. This win will surely give a boost to hockey lovers. Pakistan team should display the same standard of team spirit and team work to overcome their opponent in the final match. Sohail Abbas must rise to the occasion to show his penalty corner hit prowess. Let us see the green Pakistan flag fluttering on the victory stand for a gold medal. Recommend

  • Iqbal Khan
    Nov 23, 2010 - 3:35PM

    Well done boys !!!! Good workRecommend

  • Haris
    Nov 23, 2010 - 4:23PM

    come on guys 1 more win and inshallah gold is ours!Recommend

  • Muhammad Qavi Ahmad
    Nov 23, 2010 - 4:31PM

    make the history …………….. best of luck Pakistan!Recommend

  • Ayaz Farooqi
    Nov 23, 2010 - 4:32PM

    This is indeed a fine victory for Pakistan hockey team and ensures Pakistan at least a silver medal. A victory in the final would indeed be an icing on the cake, as it would not only avenge Pakistan’s three defeats at the hands of India in the year 2010 alone, but would also enable them to win the coveted title after a whopping gap of 20 years.

    Well played Pakistan. All our best wishes are with you for the final to be played against the arch rivals! Recommend

  • Hasnain
    Nov 23, 2010 - 4:35PM

    The best chance for the revival of national sports of Pakistan.

    Come on Green Shirts!!!!!Recommend

  • Fayyaz Hussain
    Nov 23, 2010 - 5:08PM

    Good …..well done pakistan Team..
    wish u good luck for finalRecommend

  • Nov 23, 2010 - 6:32PM

    Well done and what a great play from the team. Play with your best of abilities in the final and our prayers will be with you. Gold Medal is for your to take.Recommend

  • shaji
    Nov 23, 2010 - 9:58PM

    well done guyzRecommend

    Nov 23, 2010 - 11:01PM

    Well Done Boys:

    U have done a great job.

    Gold Medal is ours Insha Allah.Recommend

  • S.O.H
    Nov 23, 2010 - 11:10PM

    Salman Akbar……Well done boy!!
    long live boy….long live Pakistan.

    Pakistan Zidabad…INSHALLAH we will win the final as well…pray, pray and pray fellows.

    Long Live Pakistan. I am proud to be Pakistan.Recommend

  • Max Awan
    Nov 23, 2010 - 11:32PM

    A good news after a long long time. I wish a GOLD for the whole Pakistani nation and i am sure boys will follow the Cricket girls. Inshalla.Recommend

  • Sheikh
    Nov 25, 2010 - 11:34AM

    I love Pakistan, aap jeeto ya haro we all love our sport men. Best luck for finalRecommend

  • Atif
    Nov 26, 2010 - 5:35AM

    Pakistan zindabad Recommend

  • amin
    Dec 8, 2010 - 10:21PM

    After all the bad press pakistan has been getting recently, its nice to here something poitive, keep it up Pakistan Recommend

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