Asian Champions Trophy: Semi-final berth on the line as Pakistan face China

KARACHI: 

Pakistan are hoping to register a win in their final pool match against China today to secure a place in the semi-final of the Asian Champions Trophy taking place in Kuantan, Malaysia.

The Greenshirts are currently ranked fourth in the standings with six points, having registered two wins and as many losses. South Korea lie above them with seven points (two wins, one draw, one loss) followed by Malaysia (3 wins, one loss) on nine and leaders India (4 wins, one draw) on 13.

China and Japan are currently ranked fifth and sixth with three and zero points respectively.

Asian Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy: India come from behind to beat Pakistan

The Greenshirts lost their opening match 4-2 to hosts Malaysia but made amends for that loss by winning the next match 1-0 against South Korea. They then took on India in the third match and despite leading 2-1 at one point, ended up losing 3-2 before registering a 4-3 win over Japan.

The top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals where the top-ranked team would face the fourth-ranked and the third-placed team will take on the second.

Defending champions Pakistan need to avoid losing by seven goals to China if they are to make it to the semi-finals. If Pakistan win and South Korea end up losing their match against Malaysia, Pakistan would finish third and face the hosts, but if South Korea are victorious, then Pakistan will face India.

‘Not repeating mistakes is key’, says hockey coach

Pakistan head coach Khawaja Junaid, however, has no qualms over coming face-to-face with India in the semi-finals.

“It really doesn’t matter to us who we face in the semi-final, whether it be India or Malaysia. We have been playing really well in the tournament and except for a few defensive lapses, we have managed to handle the opposition really well,” he said before further adding that the India game could have easily finished in the Greenshirts’ favour.

“We were leading against India at one point and had them under control for the majority of the match. We lost because we lost concentration and have worked on that aspect. If we face India again, I’m confident of a better performance.”

Defender Rashid Mehmood, 29, echoed his coaches’ sentiments claiming that the team is eager to retain the trophy.

“The only thing on our minds is winning the Asian Champions Trophy. We will try our best to overcome any opposition and have been working really hard for that,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2016.

source The Express Tribune news