MUSCAT: Pakistan who needed a win to make it to the semifinal spot beat the Asian Games silver medallists Malaysia 1-0 while Oman Lost to the reigning Asiad champions Japan 5-0 during the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat on Thursday.
Pakistan playing in white while Malaysia in orange got off of the cautious start, Malaysia looking to consolidate their position in the standings were on the defensive right from the word go, as Pakistan began putting pressure on the opposition making a couple of riads into the Malaysian half,.
Pakistan dominated most part of the three quarters using their flanks to the utmost but was lacked in conversion. There were plenty of chances that wen a begging as the Pakistan forwards just could not put the ball at the back of the net.
Malaysia on the other hand had a few chances but due to some good goalkeeping by the Pakistan custodian they were held at bay.
Pakistan pressed on the accelerator in the fourth quarter hoping to open the scoring which they finally did in the 53th minute of the game scoring from a field goal through Mohammed Irfan Jr.
Malaysia tried to equalize but Pakistan defence did well to keep them out out the 35yard circle as time ran out for the Malaysians. At the final buzzer the score on the board read Pakistan 1 and Malaysia 0.
Meanwhile, in the second match of the evening hosts Oman faced off against the Asians Games champions Japan.
Watched by a sparse crowd at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Oman began on a very high note taking the game to the Japanese who managed to survive the onslaught. The Japanese who were extremely fast fought back to gain position and restore order during the game but just could not take the lead as Oman’s goalkeeper was up to the task making three wonderful save to take the game in to the half time.
Back for the third quarter Japan using their wings opened up the game and that’s when Japan was able to take the lead through Wataru Matsumoto in the 33rd minute. Lacking in international exposure Oman resorted to man to man marking but the Japanese were just too good for the host team scoring at will, the second being scored by Kazumasa Matsumoto through a field goal in the 38th minute, then there was no turning back for the Japanese who pumped in two more goals one through a penalty corner by Hirotaka Zendana and the other by Hiromasa Ochiai scoring from a field goal to close out the match 5-0
With the round robin completed the teams now head into the knockout stage where India will meet Japan who they beat 9-0 in their earlier encounter but the Japanese will now be looking to restore parity and live up to their name as Asiad champions. While Pakistan will have one eye on India while they take on the Malaysians who they edged out by a solitary goal on Thursday.
Should India get over the Japanese hurdle and Pakistan beat Malaysia then the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex will be in for a humdinger of a match should the two Asian giants meet in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy on October 28.