INCHEON – Full-back Muhammad Irfan and forward Abdul Haseem Khan banged a pair of goals as Pakistan topped pool ‘B’ with a resounding 8-0 victory over Oman in their last league game of Asian Games Hockey Championship here at the Munhak Stadium on Saturday.
Captain Imran and Irfan both converted short corners while centre-forward Haseem Khan played his best game, smashed two field goals. Muhammad Dilber and Umar Bhutta scored one goal each. Playing in whites, Pakistan made a sluggish start as Oman defenders did not allowed them to score the goals till the first 14-minute. Muhammad Imran flicked home the made it first penalty corner seconds before the first quarter to make it 1-0.
However things started to change as Pakistan forwards got into their rhythm as three goals came in space of just seven minutes in the second quarter, reports Ehsan Qureshi. Team’s new teenage sensation Muhammad Dilber made 2-0 with a superb field effort in 17th minutes and three minutes later Muhammad Irfan converted the second penalty corner for 3-0 lead after 20th minutes.
Before Omanese could recover from the shock, Haseem Khan made it 4-0 deflecting a smart cross from Shakeel Abbasi. Pakistan led 4-0 at 10-minute half time break. Lanky Umar Bhutta continued his firepower in the team put him team 5-0 ahead on another through pass from Abbasi cross which gave Oman goalie Salmeen Al Noufali no chance.
Pakistan forced their third short corner in 43rd minutes and Imran’s powerful scoop hit the top part of the cage. This was Muhammad Imran’s sixth goal of the tournament which made him highest scorer of the event after first game. With this goal Imran raised his international tally to 153 from 220 internationals.
Imran was in a position to complete his second hat-trick of the event after scoring four against Sri Lanka in the opening game. But his carpeted push was brilliantly blocked by Salmeen in the 45th minutes. Rashid Mehboob tried to score off on the rebound. But fierce strike went off the target. Haseem completed his brace when fired a field goal on a top circle pass to make it 7-0. Oman created a couple of attacks in the last quarter and secured a penalty corner. But Pakistan custodian Imran Butt blocked the attempt on 52nd minutes.
Muhammad Irfan, who was sent off a with a yellow card in 52nd minutes, returned on the field and converted his team’s fifth and last penalty corner in the last 23 seconds. Now Pakistan will meet Malaysia in the semi-final on September 30 after they Japan 4-1 in their do-or-die match to sail into the last four grades.
Muhammad Razie Abu Rahim was his team’s hero as he slammed in two penalty corner goals. Pakistan chief Shahnaz Shaikh was quite satisfied and happy with his team’s build-up for the semi-finals. “It is a good sign that both our batteries are working well with 14 field goals and 12 penalty corner conversions,” he said.
“Our pace in all matches good from start to finish. As we are scoring from start and keeping the momentum till the end,” former Olympian, who took over the charge of the team three months ago, commented. Oman team’s German coach Oliver Kurtz was deeply disappointed with the performance his boys.
“My team played badly. They lacked discipline, organization which disappointed me,” he said after they match. “We played better against China and India. But today our team little clue of things,” he said. He said that now Oman had to play in the classification match for 7th and eight places which were like in 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games,” he said.
He said Pakistan was big team and they played 100 percent and my team has no discipline.