Pakistan Hockey team strikes gold at Asian Games

by Guest412  |  earlier

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Historians may not agree. Detractors might call it a fluke. But the truth is Pakistan has managed to do what no one expected them to do. They struck gold by winning the hockey event of the Asian Games and brought an end to the title drought that lasted 16

The green shirts bagged their third gold medal of the Asian Games in the city of Guangzhou but no one, even the Dutch coach of the Pakistan hockey team Michel van den Heuvel was certain of Pakistan’s win in the event. Before leaving for the Asian Games, he
was quoted by local media that the team will try to reach the semi-finals of the event and give their best to reach the podium. Fortunately, they exceeded all expectations, including their very own.

Pakistan won the first match of the series 12-0 against the lowly ranked Hong Kong on 17th November. The win might not have raised eyebrows back home but it was enough to get the ball rolling. The next day, green shirts downed Japan 8-2 in a match that was
one-sided all the way.
On 20th November, Pakistan challenged India in a match that changed fortunes throughout its course. In the end, Pakistan lost as India emerged victorious by 3-2. But the loss was a blessing in disguise as Pakistan finished second in their pool and was asked
to play South Korea instead of the fast-improving Malaysia in the semi finals. After defeating Bangladesh 6-1 on 21
November, Pakistan entered the knock-out stage with confidence that was not there at the start of the event.

The green shirts were rusty in the initial minutes of the semi-final but as the match progressed, they gained momentum and consistency. The fragile defence began to resist the attacks by South Koreans and both teams finished the match as well as the extra time
with one goal each.
It was the penalty shoot out where both sides were matched mainly due to the excellent saves by both the keepers – Pakistan’s Salman Akbar and Korean Jaehyeon Kim.
Pakistan’s Salman Akbar then saved the crucial fourth penalty stroke by the Korean player, but in a twist of fate, the umpire - Simon Taylor from New Zealand - disallowed the save and credited Korea a crucial goal. He argued that Salman had moved before
the whistle and although the goal keeper and former captain Shakeel Abbasi argued, Koreans got the goal they shouldn’t have.

That error by Kiwi umpire Simon Taylor was enough to wake up the sleeping giant in Salman Akbar. Standing at 6 feet tall, he was a different man after that. Not only did he stop the next hit by the Korean player but also the one after that, enabling Pakistan
to win the penalty shoot out by 4 goals to 3 in the sudden death stage.
Afterwards, there was no looking back for Zeeshan Ashraf and his side who outclassed the Malaysians for the first time in the final of Asian Games.
Specialist drag-flicker Sohail Abbas, who scored two goals in the first match, helped Pakistan gain the lead in the 26th minute of the match through a penalty corner. The lead was doubled by Rehan Butt in the 38th minute of the match, which stayed till the
The defenders were the surprise package in the match since they never let Malaysia feel at ease in their half. The whole team played as a well-knit unit and helped Pakistan win its first gold medal in a mega event since the World Cup in 1994, and the first
Asian Games gold since 1990.

It was Pakistan’s eighth Asiad Hockey gold as they ended the year on a high after a disappointing eight-month period. They came last in the 12-nation World Cup in India earlier this year while took sixth place at the Commonwealth Games last month.
With this win, Pakistan have also qualified for London Olympics 2012. Incidentally, it was Beijing in China where Pakistan were last crowned Asian champions when they defeated India 20 years back. It took another trip to China for Pakistan to reclaim their



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