IPOH (AFP) – Asian Games champions Pakistan came alive in the last 10 minutes of a Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match Friday, defeating South Korea 4-2 to go top of the standings. However, world champions Australia were lucky to salvage a 2-1 win over hosts Malaysia after rallying in the second half to remain in the running for a shot at the title. Despite trailing the Koreans – joint reigning champions alongside India – twice in the match, three goals in the last few minutes turned the tide for the Pakistanis.
Jubilant team manager K. M. Junaid said it was a great day for Pakistani hockey as the team played as a family and more importantly, was able to withstand 70 minutes of impressive hockey from their opponents. “We are never a 70-minute team and many times we have faltered at the later stages of a match. This is a turning point and it shows the mental strength of the players here,” said Junaid.
“To come back after trailing twice is also great and there is the fact that we managed to score three goals in the last seven minutes. I am pleased and this augurs well for the team,” he added. The Koreans were the stronger team in the first half, scoring an early goal in the 13th minute from a penalty corner taken by Hyun Hya-sung. Rehan Butt pulled his team level in the 21st minute and it remained 1-1 through to half-time.
The Koreans again took the lead in the second half with Hya-sung scoring in the 48th minute with another set piece move but the Pakistanis slowly clawed back into the game and soon were attacking in greater numbers. The turning point came in the 63rd minute from their fifth penalty corner when Sohail Abbas scored with a high flick against goalkeeper Lee Myung-ho. A minute later, youngster Abdul Haseem Khan scored a field goal and Waqas Akbar ended a great day for the Pakistanis with a 70th minute field goal – Nation