KARACHI: Pakistan continue their quest for a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics with their toughest task awaiting them at the Hockey World League Semi-finals — a high-octane clash with India, which will be witnessed by millions of fans from around the world including the 20,000 spectators at the KHC Dragon Hockey Club in Antwerp, Belgium.
The crunch match between Champions Trophy silver-medallists Pakistan and Asian Games Champions India is the highlight of the tournament, with pride more at stake for the men in blue who have already qualified for the HWL Final and the Olympics.
For Pakistan, it’s both a matter of pride and making it to Rio next year.
“The boys are set to put forward their best game and repeat their victory against India from the Champions Trophy,” Imran told The Express Tribune. “The team is very confident but any match against India is always a big contest. Things have not gone so well till now but we are going for a win and hopefully we will keep our nerves at bay and treat this like any other match.”
Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran: I am very happy we played a draw. We played well and should be the winner but anyhow its a pool match. We are going to see our mistake. In the end, I am happy with my team. I am happy I scored two goals but it was all team work.
Indian captain Sardar Singh: It is always exciting to play Pakistan. I think both teams played a good match but we are lucky to get a draw. There a lot of Indian who were waiting for this match I hope they enjoyed. We are actually going match-to-match, we are playing Austarlia next and we hope we do better.
That is it! The game is a draw 2-2. No fan will go back home suffering the pain of defeat. Shehnaz Sheikh didn't look like a happy man but his team have done well to make sure they didn't end on the losing side!
Both teams making desperate attempts on goal with less than two minutes left!
Muhammad Tausiq walks out with an injury. Match enters into the dying moments!
Penalty corner for Pakistan but they miss the chance to convert with a missed trap. Imran Butt follows up with a brilliant save!
Penalty corner for India! Can they take the lead here? Poor trapping results in a missed chance. Pakistan defenders not moving quick enough now.
GOAL! India fight back with Ramandeep Singh. Its Imran vs Ramandeep today! Two goals for each man.
GOAL! Muhammad Imran drag flicks it into the top-right corner of the goal. Pakistan lead 2-1.
Penalty corner for Pakistan. Sardar Singh concedes it!
Missed chance! Ali Shan misses a chance in front of the goalkeeper.
Pakistan have one man advantage in the third quarter. Satbir Singh is out with a 10-minute penalty.
Pakistan coach Shehnaz Sheikh: There is a lot of intensity and I just want both teams to play cool, play good hockey!
India coach: First quarter was good. Second was not that bright! If we go back on the structure and find our moments we can win.
Penalty corner for India but wait Sardar Singh has hit Muhammad Imran in the face with his stick. PC cancelled and Sardar sent off for 10 minutes. End of second quarter as well!
Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt makes an important save!
GOAL! Muhammad Imran coverts the stroke. Both teams are on equal terms now. Imran goes right and low. The keeper guesses the direction but misjudges the trajectory!
Penalty corner for Pakistan. Can they convert? No they can't. Umpire says its another penalty corner. Pakistan get another go and this time the ball touches the foot of an Indian defender behind the keeper. Its a penalty stroke.
India defend a great opportunity for Pakistan!
GOAL! Ramandeep Singh for India. Field goal made possible by a diving Ramandeep with one hand. Pakistan need to fight back quickly!
FOUL! Rizwan Jr on Yuvraj. No card shown. Rizwan swings and hits the Indian on his shin!
Pakistan are defending well at the start of the quarter. Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh has never been on the losing side against India when on the field as a player in the past.
India start the match with the ball.
Pakistan lead the last five matches against India with a 3-2 wager.
The national anthems are being played. Pakistan first! India follow with their anthem. Hand shakes amongst the teams.
Fans are swarming in for the clash of the Asian hockey giants. The players have nearly warmed up. The high-octane clash is going to start soon!