INCHEON – The national hockey squad were today squeezed out of the 17th Asian Games hockey final when they lost 5-6 to Pakistan in a semi-final penalty shootout at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium.
Pakistan’s goals were netted by Muhammad Waqas, Abdul Haseem Khan and Rashid Mehmood who scored two goals each.
Malaysia obtained their goals through Muhammad Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Fitri Saari (two goals) and Muhammad Shahril Saabah (two goals).
“Personally, I was really confident of taking them because I thought tactically we outplayed them. We organised a very good build up, we took our three penalty corners. It was a decision decided in the meeting between me and three flickers.
“We made the call as we could have done before but the thing did not happen. We had another second and a third chance but we missed,” national coach Arul Selvaraj told reporters here.
In this regard, Arul was proud of the performance of his charges in stopping Pakistan from obtaining any penalty corners in the first quarter of the match.
“I am very very proud of this team. I have 35 days to prepare the team. I achieved my personal goal which was to come and play with their hearts out and passion. Hopefully the guys can keep it going when they play South Korea for the bronze medal,” he said.
In the first half, Pakistan opened the game aggressively but failed to enter the D following a strong performance by the defenders while goalkeeper S. Kumar was in his element, foiling several dangerous attempts on goal, including a lethal-looking penalty corner by Pakistan in the 66th minute.
Both teams were locked without a goal despite several attacks and counter attacks.
Malaysia however, almost took the lead through three penalty corners but they were not executed well by Muhammad Razie Abdul Rahim.
Meanwhile, S.Kumar said they would go all out in the match for the bronze medal against South Korea on Thursday.
He said this has been the best team which displayed exceptional team spirit in the games.
“We will fight for our pride in the bronze medal game,” he said. – BERNAMA