LAHORE - Subcontinent rivals Pakistan and India are all set to clash in the Asian Champions Trophy last league encounter today at Ordus, China, with the men in green simply looking for a draw to make it to the final but it’s a do or die affair for India. For India, a draw would be feasible only if Malaysia beat Japan, who are placed third on the points table. Having been placed over the top, Pakistan have nine points, India have eight and Japan have seven. With Malaysia playing for honour, it would be tough for Japan to maintain their win run. South Koea are at number four position with six points which gives all four teams a chance of entering the final.
India can afford to draw against Pakistan only if Malaysia beat Japan. The Indians could then waltz into the final on a better goal average, that too if Korea beat China, the lowest ranked team in the tournament. Alternately, if India beat Pakistan, goal averages would also come into play for Pakistan and Korea. Pakistan have so far done well in the event with three wins and a loss. Brilliant attacker Shakeel Abbasi gave Pakistan a 3-2 win over Malaysia in their opening fixture before his team cruised to a 4-1 triumph over hosts China the following day. However, Pakistan suffered a shock 3-1 defeat against Japan, but then returned to winning ways on Wednesday with a superb 3-2 triumph over Korea. The Koreans forced Pakistan work hard for their victory, fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the scores midway through the second half. However, a field goal from Rasool Shaqat ensured that Pakistan claimed their third win of the tournament.
For Pakistan win or loss does not matter as one of the PHF officials said that they were satisfied with the performance. “We are giving the team proper exposure before the ultimate target (Olympics) and if their performance is good, it will serve as good build up for the Olympics,” said Asif Bajwa, secretary PHF. But the India coach believes his team is under severe pressure and winning the event would be a tough ask for them. India coach Michael Nobbs minced no words when he said that there would be huge pressure on his boys in Friday's game.
"For me as a coach, this is the first opportunity to play against Pakistan and that is really exciting. There is going to be huge pressure and it would be interesting to see how the boys cope with it," he said. “India, at the moment, are unbeaten in the tournament with two draws and two wins. It's all about the young boys. It's a dream match for them and then if you win the reward is a place in the final,” he said. “I won't be way off the mark if I say nobody gave us a chance of even being in the reckoning. So for the team and the boys, it's a great moment," Nobbs added.