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Bhutta  happy with Pakistan’s performance in Asian Championship Trophy

Bhutta  happy with Pakistan’s performance in Asian Championship Trophy

Bhutta  happy with Pakistan’s performance in Asian Championship Trophy

The Men-in-Green finished at fourth place in the five-team tournament

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Pakistan had a quiet Asian Hockey Championship Trophy as they finished on the fourth spot on the table.

The arch-rivals India defeated the Green Shirts by 4-3 in a closely fought encounter for the third position in the tournament on Wednesday.

Though the Men-in-Green finished on the fourth spot in the five-team event and only managed to register one victory, that too against a weak Bangladesh outfit, captain Umar Bhutta seemed satisfied with the performance.

“Results are not good as we couldn’t end on the podium for the first time in the continental event,” Bhutta said while talking exclusively to Bol News. “We have performed well in the tournament even though we were playing international hockey after the gap of two years.”

Moreover, team assistant coach Olympian Sameer Hussain maintained that the boys gave a tough time to all the teams they faced in the competition.

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“India are ranked third at the moment in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings and we are standing at 18th. Still, we played a nail-biting match against them as they scored a victory in the

last minutes,” he said. “In the recent past, we were conceding thumping defeats against India but now our team has improved, and we are now playing competitive hockey.”

Meanwhile, Bhutta backed the assistant coach’s words and claimed that it was just the lack of experience of his squad that proved to be the difference between his team and other units in the event

“Inexperience cost us,” he maintained. “We were not able to carry our dominance in the games. We lost the semifinal and the third position match in the final moments of the contests. Our seven players have never played at the international stage [before the Asian Hockey Championship Trophy] but still, they performed well. The way we have competed in the tournament showed the potential of our players.”

It was the first assignment of the newly-appointed coach Siegfried Aikman, who has previously coached Japan and improved their performance. According to Sameer, they have assisted the team’s weaknesses and noted them.

“The team performed well in his coaching and we have listed down the weaknesses of the team before the Asia Cup as it’ll be a World Cup qualifier,” he maintained. “Our defence, especially goalkeeping department is a cause of concern and needs to be improved.”

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On the other hand, Bhutta believes that to take the Pakistan team to a level where they can win medals in international competitions, the hockey structure in the country needs to be overhauled like the other Asian teams.

“Hockey league can improve the quality of hockey in Pakistan just like cricket,” he suggested. “Our government and private sectors should come forward to uplift the national sport.”

Next year, the Green Shirts will feature in the Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Trophy to book a berth in the Olympics.

Pakistan’s run in Trophy

The Men-in-Green started the campaign with a goalless draw against Japan on December 14.

The Green Shirts then took the rival neighbours India in their second contest of the event on December 17. Pakistan fell short in the contest as the Men-in-Blue won the game by 3-1, courtesy of Harmanpreet Singh’s two and Akashdeep Singh’s one goal. Meanwhile, Junaid Manzoor was the only scorer from the Green Shirts.

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The next day, on December 18, Pakistan had a nerve-wracking contest against South Korea, which was drawn with a scoreline of 3-3. Rana Abdul Waheed scored twice, while Afraz netted the ball once for their team in the game. Kim Kyu-beom, Ji Woo-cheon and Jon Jong hyun were scorers for South Korea.

The two-time Asian Hockey Championship Trophy winners then took on the debutantes Bangladesh, where they crushed them by 6-2. Ahmed Nadeem and Ajaz Ahmed scored two apiece, while Afraz and Mohammad Razzaq did once. Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Arshad Hossain netted the ball twice in the game.

With the win, the Men-in-Green qualified for the semifinals, where they faced South Korea. The contest was a high scoring one, where the Green Shirts fell after fighting brilliantly with a score of 6-5.

Jong Jong-hyun was the star of the game for the winning team with four goals, while Yang Ji-hun and Jeong Jun-woo scored one each. For Pakistan, Mubashar Ali was the highest scorer with two, while Afraz, Junaid Manzoor and Bhutta scored once.

For the third-place game, Pakistan gave a tough competition to a much-stronger India and lost the game after a nail-biting contest with a score of 4-3. Afraz, Rana and Moin Shakeel were the scorers for the losing team while Harmanpreet, Sumit, Varun Kumar and Akashdeep scored for India.

 

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