ISLAMABAD: Japan put curtains on Pakistan hockey team’s progress with a 3-2 win in the 19th Asian Games underway in Hangzhou as for the first time the Greenshirts have failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the continental event.
Pakistan badly required a win to move into the semis following historic 10-2 drubbing at the hands of India but failed to even pull a draw against Japan and thus relegated to play for 5th and 6th positions.
The eight times Asian Games gold medalists Pakistan made it to the semis on all 18 previous occasions. The 19th edition, however, proved disastrous for Pakistan as following two back-to-back defeats, the team failed to make it to the semis.
Pakistan were first to take lead in a crucial match against Japan on Monday as Arshad Liaquat banged home the opener through field effort in the 5th minute with Japan bouncing back to square it up a minute later. Kiato Tanaka struck home the equalizer on a penalty corner.
Japan accelerated the pace in the second quarter as forward Kentaro Fukuda netted from field effort to give his team 2-1 lead in the 17th minute. Japan added another goal through penalty corner in the 28th minute with Raiki Fujishima dodging Pakistani goalkeeper on penalty corner as Japan took two goal cushion within 28 minutes.
Pakistan however retaliated well to pull one back through penalty corner effort as Arbaz Ahmad banged the board with sizzling hit. Pakistan made all out efforts to score the equalizer but to no avail.
Japan kept a tight check on the forward-line movement. The Pakistan team missed several goal-scoring opportunities during the match with Afraz missing an open net in the eighth minute from a left side cross.