Dawn News

Pakistan's Muhammad Rizwan (Junior) (L) and Spain's Pablo Amat fight for the ball. -Photo by Reuters

KARACHI: The opening match in any competition is difficult for both the teams but Pakistan on the whole played well against Spain on Monday to earn a draw, says Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui.

Speaking to Dawn soon after the match, which saw Spain holding Pakistan to a 1-1 draw, the country’s most successful captain and coach said that he could see that the Green Shirts hadn’t settled in the initial five to 10 minutes of the match as Spain kept the pressure on them.

“Spain were playing fast initially which took Pakistan off guard. And that is why we kept fumbling. But the good thing is that we were able to see off our rough patch without any loss or damage and were even able to come back into the game from that point,” observed Islah.

“We were able to get two penalty-corners and made two field attempts, too. Unfortunately, Sohail Abbas couldn’t convert the penalty-corners when he threw the ball upwards on both attempts, which the tall Spanish goalkeeper had no problem blocking. Had he sent one lower and one upwards, it could have worked. Then it would also have been better to aim at the corners of the goalpost rather than its middle both the times.”

“Also I noticed that even though he had the speed there was no accuracy in Sohail’s shots. That’s why I believe that he should work more on his accuracy and concentrate on angular shots,” Islah pointed out.

About the game’s second half, the former captain said that it was okay although Pakistan’s forward line missed two or three good chances. “Waqas Sharif missed one and Haseem Khan another,” he said.

“Now, you only get as many good chances in big matches and you can’t get very far if you don’t utilise them. For the next matches,” Islah stressed, “the team coaches should be able to control the misses. If Sohail is unable to convert the penalty-corners, they should let Mohammad Imran take them.”

Islah went on to add: “Luckily for Pakistan, Spain, too, missed three to four scoring chances which also included three penalty-corners. But then they equalised seconds after Pakistan scored through Rehan Butt. We should not have let our defence relax due to which Spain’s counter attack met with hundred per cent success. The next instant saw them attacking again, which resulted in their getting a penalty-corner. We are lucky to have survived that.”

For next time, Islah advised that Pakistan should take care not to give big gaps for the opponents to get in and score.

“Thankfully we are still very much in the race and will remain so if we keep on performing well, which will only happen if we control our missing, avail our chances and not let our defense relax,” he concluded.

Pakistan play their next match against Argentina on Wednesday.

Email feedback and queries to Dawn.com's editorial team, or visit our contact page


Comments (17) Closed

Muhammad Ahmed Mufti
Jul 31, 2012 02:23pm
Well played! A medal at Olympics will go long way towards reviving hockey in Pakistan.
Indian Hockey Lover
Aug 02, 2012 02:42pm
Good luck Pakistan, great start, go for the gold, we Indians are almost done, hope you keep asian spirit alive and remind the world that we can come back from a deep sleep.
truth bites
Jul 31, 2012 09:46am
Hope Pakistan keep improving during the Olympics, I will be there when they face Austrailia to cheer them! Our national problem in sports, we go into games without preparation and try to build up momentum as go along! Some time it work, most of the time it doesnt, Hope it work when we need this most!
Ahmed Jan
Jul 31, 2012 09:48am
The players played superbly, more than their capability. You can't blame them for any wrong doings when they had four coaches in last five years and their last coach was sacked by PHF four months before the Olympics 2012.
Bash Ali
Jul 31, 2012 12:25pm
Bash Ali
Jul 31, 2012 12:24pm
I hope we get any medal. Gold is a dream!
sana ullah
Jul 31, 2012 10:52am
we have a lot of expectation from our penalty corner specialist, to be focus, accurate and among the goal scorer.
Abdullah Hussain
Jul 31, 2012 10:26am
Good play team Pakistan, keep it up. We all pray for your success. Try to play offensive game in all the games you play. Rely on short passes & penalty corner conversion. Have faith in Allah & keep in mind that these are the same green shirts that once ruled the world in Hockey & Squash. Together we can do it again, Inshallah.
ahmet abdulaziz
Jul 31, 2012 04:18am
The race is on. I wish the green shirts the best of luck.
Jul 31, 2012 05:38am
Yeap, Rock on Pakistan.
Masood khan
Jul 31, 2012 05:46am
Bravo, keep it up, best wishes. Masood Khan - Dubai
Nasir Cheema
Jul 31, 2012 07:50am
Our supplication for you team, keep it up. Advise to Sohail Abbas that must do 5 minutes concentration practice before match, it will work, how, just sit relax and close your eyes and think, focus you are sending ball inside the goal, scoring successful goal. It will work and you will start scoring goals again like before. If you understood or not this logic but do it.
Jul 31, 2012 08:05am
Yes, great work Pakistan! Hockey is our national sport and the only one in Olympics where we DO have a chance! So I pray to Allah that we be successful and win the GOLD!!!
Jul 31, 2012 04:16pm
Go Green but do come back home
Jul 31, 2012 04:18pm
we need astro turf in Pakistan to practice to get match up with world standard...
zafar Khan
Jul 31, 2012 07:55pm
When a team draws its first match and two other teams wintheir first match, then going gets tough for the low performer. In the next three matches, Pakistan may only wrest perhaps one victory against Argentina. The other two matches seem tough. At best, Pakistan can look forward to a bronze.Just as a solace to India haters! India hockey team has gone down the drain. Projected Gold Medalist is Australia and Holland.
Jul 31, 2012 11:02pm
We are looking forward for your win towards medal table . Best of luck Pak team.