After a neck to neck competition and a three goalless quarter, the Pakistan hockey team managed to beat Malaysia 1-0 in the round robin match for the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat on Thursday.
Even after the loss, Malaysia managed to qualify for the semi final where it once again played against Pakistan on Saturday (27th October). The match held significance for the Pakistan hockey federation as it would highlight whether or not the change in coach paid off. The Malaysian coach was Roelant Oltmans who had been Pakistan’s head coach until a few weeks ago.
At the recent Asian Games, Pakistan had defeated Malaysia 4-1. Hence, Pakistan remained the favourite.
In the second quarter, Umar Bhutta had a chance to score but he was far too slow to react. No goal had been scored by half time. During the third quarter, a Malaysian forward beat Pakistan’s defence, but Imran Butt successfully cleared the ball. After the yellow card was issued to Malaysian player Tajuddin Tengku the team was reduced to 10 people. Pakistani forwards attacked Malaysia’s goal post Hairi Rehman, the Malaysian goalkeeper, superbly defended against the Pakistani offensive.
Aleem Bilal’s drag flick was blocked by Hairi, in the first penalty corner that Pakistan was awarded. Pakistan’s position significantly weakened when Faisal Qadir was shown a yellow card, while Malaysia’s Tajuddin was back on the pitch. In the 52nd minute, Abu Bakar had an opportunity to score with only Hairi at the defence but Bakar did not manage to get possession of the ball.
On the other hand, Farhan Ashari too missed a goal scoring chance for Malaysia. Pakistan launched their own attack and Irfan Junior managed to strike the goal for Pakistan, which proved decisive. Pakistan again managed to win the semi final from Malaysia, qualifying for the final. The final is much anticipated as Pakistan and India come head to head.