JAKARTA: Pakistan ended their Asia Cup campaign on a winning note, hammering Bangladesh 8-0 to win the fifth-place match of the Asia Cup here at the GBK Sports Arena on Wednesday.
Missing out on the Super 4s stage at the Asia Cup had seen Pakistan miss out on qualification for next year’s World Cup but in their final match of the tournament, Umar Bhutta’s men went out for a win from the start.
Bangladesh’s early resistance was broken in the 11th minute when Rizwan Ali opened the scoring and Pakistan added another goal to the board five minutes later through a prenalty corner converted by Mubashar Ali.
It was however in the second half when goals came thick and fast for Pakistan.
Mubashar scored his second in the 32nd minute before Afraz and Abdul Shahid scored twice in the space of three minutes to put Pakistan 5-0 up by the 42nd.
Captain Umar made it 6-0 in the 48th but Pakistan continued to attack in full steam and converted two more field goals in the 53rd and the final minute of the game through Ajaz Ahmad and Ali Ghazanfar respectively.
“We didn’t want to finish fifth [going into the tournament],” Pakistan’s Rana Abdul Waheed said after the match, summing up Pakistan’s campaign. “We just lost one game in the tournament and missed out on the World Cup so naturally we are disappointed and upset.
“But we’re looking forward and learnt a lot from this tournament and hope to do better at the Commonwealth Games [in Birmingham this year].
“After that, we are looking to the Asian Games [scheduled to take place this year in China but postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic]and hopefully secure our spot at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“We gave our all but World Cup qualification wasn’t in our hands. We have a young team and we’re looking to build on that and hopefully return Pakistan hockey to its glory days.”
A sign of Pakistan’s future promise came when goalkeeper Akmal Hussain was named the most promising goalkeeper of the tournament.
KOREANS CLINCH TITLE
Like Pakistan,South Korea are also looking forward to the Asian Games, the dates of which are yet to be decided, after they won the final 2-1 against Malaysia.
“We will add in a few younger players and maintain the experienced ones, and our target is to win the Asian Games gold,” South Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo said after seeing Hwang Taeil score the winner on a counterattack in the 52nd minute.
The Koreans had taken the lead in the 17th minute off a field attempt from Jung Man Jae before Malaysia levelled the game through Syafiq Syed Cholan’s stunning field goal in the 25th minute but Hwang denied Malaysia a first-ever triumph at the Asia Cup.
India, who came into the tournament as defending champions, finished third after they beat Japan 1-0 thanks to a goal in the seventh minute by Rajkumar Pal.
Hosts Indonesia had finished last after losing 2-0 to Oman on Tuesday.