PAKISTAN 5 (2)
Arslan Qadir 6 (PC)
Umar Bhutta 16 (PC)
Salman Hussain 23 (F)
Muhammad Dilber 35, 39 (F, F)
MALAYSIA 3 (1)
Nabil Fiqri 1 (F)
Shahrun Nabil 25 (F)
Azlan Misron 36 (F)
It’s been a terrible year for Pakistan – more of that in a moment – but they provided flashes of what the world will be missing in the upcoming major tournaments when they edged out Malaysia 5-3 in the International Super Series Hockey 9s at Perth Hockey Stadium last night.
The Pakistanis failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, had governance issues that robbed them of a place in the Commonwealth Games and experienced travel difficulties before arriving in Australia. Hosting events is also currently not an option.
Despite the dramas, they put on a show in the final game of the night which augurs well for their young players in the event for which they have qualified – the Junior World Cup.
Coach Tahir Zaman said the Hockey 9s was a chance for promising members of his Under 21 squad to display their abilities.
“It’s a very fast game, played at pace and we can check the talent and fitness of the boys ahead of the World Cup in December,” he said. “We have brought a young team with that in mind.”
He added that the support of Hockey Australia had been crucial in their arriving in Perth. “We felt totally hopeless and were thinking we could not come but at the 11th hour it was all sorted out and we are very grateful.”
Malaysia, who have qualified for the senior World Cup, took the lead in the first minute but were 2-1 down by half time with the swivel turn and shot from Umar Bhutta that gave Pakistan the advantage the pick of the bunch.
The second half was nip and tuck as each time Pakistan edged ahead the Malaysians fought back. Both goalkeepers were outstanding – even with the outsize goals – and it was not until the last minute that the Pakistanis restored their two-goal lead.