GOLD COAST: Both Pakistan and Malaysia were out of semifinal contention at the hockey competition of XXI Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, according to the information received on Wednesday.
But there was something at stake when they came across in their last pool game on Wednesday. Pakistan needed to win the game in order to make it for the fifth place game. For Malaysia a draw was enough. The two sides ended equal on points. As per the tournament rules, the side with more win finished ahead. Pakistan drew all the four matches while Malaysia had one win.
Malaysia called the early shots. A steal in the Pakistani sides half left goalkeeper, Imran Butt, with no option but to rush out of the 23-metre to avoid danger. It cost him yellow card. Replacement Mazhar Abbas was called to make two outstanding saves in his five minute appearance on the pitch.
Pakistan managed to settle down and was certainly the better side during the rest of the first half. In the ninth minute, after some delightful shot passes, a high ball reached Shafqat Rasool standing unmarked near the right post. The veteran first timed it into the cage.
In the second quarter, the two sides got a couple of back-to-back penalty corners but to no avail. Dilber had the best open play opportunity. He had goal at his mercy but the try was poor. At the half time Pakistan was leading from one goal.
Pakistan rushed out of the blocks after the change of the sides and had a penalty corner in the first minute but the variation did not click. After some back and forth play, Malaysia tested Imran Butt, who was well positioned to stop.
In the 39th minute, Fitri Sari, after a magnificent dribbling run, sent a parallel reverse ball in the path of Ramadan Rosli from deep inside circle’s left. The latter dived to complete a memorable goal. First minute of the fourth quarter saw Pakistan waste another penalty corner. Then Malaysia could not make out of two back-to-back penalty corners. With less than three minutes left, Pakistani head coach Oeltmans replaced the goalkeeper with an outfield player. There was some high drama as Pakistan obtained two back-to-back penalty corners in the penultimate minute but the Malaysian net minder Hairi Abdul Rahman anticipated well each time and it ended 1-1.
Pakistan: Shafqat Rasool (9th minute)
Malaysia: Ramadan Rosli (39th minute)
Pakistan will play the 7th/8th position match on Friday. Meanwhile, Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation in an interview with Radio Pakistan said that Pakistan team’s overall performance in the event had been satisfactory.
He said that in the matches against India and England, Pakistani players showed fine hockey, which he said was encouraging. “It was after a long time that Pakistan team showed tremendous fighting spirit.
The credit for that went to the newly-appointed Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans, who had inculcated a new spirit in the team, he added.