Pakistan qualify for Asian Games hockey semi-final

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Pakistan qualify for Asian Games hockey semi-final
Despite losing to India in their last group game, Pakistan managed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Asian Games Hockey event after beating Bangladesh 6-1 in Guangzhou. The Green Shirts join former champions South Korea, arch-rivals India and Malaysia in a formidable semi-final line up.
The Pakistan hockey team needed a win to qualify for the semi-finals of the Asian Games hockey, following their fourth consecutive defeat this year to arch rival India in their third pool match. Pakistan thrashed Bangladesh 6-1 in the final group game and ensured their place in the final four.  
The team put up a strong display against Bangladesh when it really mattered. The experienced trio of Sohail Abbas, Shakeel Abbasi and Muhammad Imran delivered outstanding performances and to ensure their team won by a sizeable margin. Pakistan’s defence was well organised and repelled a number of attacks from Bangladesh’s strikers.
The game was more crucial for Pakistan, than it was for Bangladesh, since Pakistan would have been out of the medals race in the hockey event if they lost. Bangladesh had already been knocked out of the tournament, and was only playing to salvage their pride.
Shakeel Abbasi, Pakistan ace attacker scored the first goal in the 13th minute of the match with a beautiful reverse shot. Pakistan then laid siege to the Bangladesh goal and put their opponents under further pressure. Legendary drag flicker, Sohail Abbas, then netted a goal from a penalty corner in the 15th minute to put Pakistan two goals ahead.  
Shakeel Abbasi twisted his way through three Bangladesh players to score his second of the game in the 27th minute. Soon after the third goal, Sohail Abbas scored his second goal to extend Pakistan’s lead to four-nil at the end of first half.
The focus then shifted towards vice-captain, Muhammad Imran in the second half of the match, as he netted two consecutive goals on penalty corners and secured the win for his side. Bangladesh scored a consolation goal through Taposh Barmon in the 83rd minute of the game.  
Pakistan play defending champion South Korea in the semi-final on 23 November, for a berth in the final of the event after finishing second in their group behind India. The second semi-final of the Asian Games will be played between Malaysia and India.
Pakistan Hockey Team Manager, Khawaja Junaid, told reporters after the match that they would have to take all their chances in order to move ahead in the event.  He said, “The morale of the players is high after qualifying for semi-final of the tournament. I hope the Green Shirts will win a gold medal in Asian Games.”
Pakistan’s Dutch coach, Michel Van Den Heuvel, said that their main target is to achieve a gold medal in the Asian Games and they would bounce back in the tournament. He added that he was expecting great things from Shakeel Abbasi and legendary drag flicker Sohail Abbas in the upcoming matches. He said that Pakistan hockey squad would give its best performance in the semi-final against South Korea.
Pakistan hockey team had won seven times title of Asian Games while South Korea acquired four gold medals in Asian Games. Third squad of semi-final, India had won the event two times while fourth one Malaysia could not win a gold medal in the history of Asian Games.



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