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Saturday July 13, 2024

Pakistan reach Junior Asia Cup semis

By Syed Intikhab Ali
May 30, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan secured a spot in the semi-finals of the Junior Hockey Asia Cup 2023 and also qualified for this year’s Junior World Cup after Abdul Wahab’s two goals helped the Greenshirts edge Japan by 3-2 in an exciting Pool A encounter in Salalah, Oman.

It should be noted that Pakistan had to win against India or Japan to reach the next stage. They not only managed a draw against India, but also defeated Japan to finish Pool A in the second spot with 10 points. They will lock horns with Malaysia or South Korea in the semi-final on May 31.

In the first quarter of the crucial contest, Japan exerted pressure on Pakistan through some good attacking game. They managed to cut through the Greenshirts’ defence line in the second minute and Kumpei Yasuda scored through a penalty corner.

However, in the second quarter, Pakistan managed to stage a comeback and made circle penetration consistently. In the 23rd minute, Ahmad Arbaz levelled the score through a goal off a PC. Before the half-time hooter, Abdul Wahab brought Pakistan 2-1 in front through a brilliant field goal.

Japan once again staged a comeback and equalised the score in the 38th minute when Yamada Hyota fired the ball into the net via a PC. But Pakistan took the lead the next minute as Abdul Wahab produced a fantastic field goal to put his team in front. Japan in the final minutes of the last quarter launched a series of attacks, but Pakistani defenders held their nerves and remained compact to clinch the thrilling contest.