“If Pakistan play their Asian-style, attacking hockey and match Australia’s fast pace, they can even slow them down to control the match and turn it in their favour.” -Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan had to win against lowly-ranked South Africa to stay in the race for the semi-finals and did well to gain three more points in their group, says former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui.

Speaking to Dawn from London after the Green-shirts’ fourth group match, in which they edged past South Africa 5-4, the Olympian said that the game was the most high-scoring hockey match in the 2012 Games so far.

“It was a fast-paced match where South Africa took the lead thrice and Pakistan restored parity all three times. And when Pakistan got ahead, South Africa also equalised. It was good that we scored our fifth goal right at the end when the opponents didn’t have time to equalise again.

“Otherwise, from the pace of the match, it could have gone either way. And it would have been a shame for Pakistan, who are ranked eighth in the world to lose to a team that is ranked 12th,” the former national coach commented.

“The good thing for Pakistan was that the forwards, midfielders and defenders scored with three in the winners’ tally scored coming through the forwards, one by a midfielder and another by a defender on a penalty-corner.

“But then we also missed where we weren’t supposed to, like when Shakeel Abbasi failed to take advantage of Waqas Sharif’s pass right in front of the goal. It is a miracle that Pakistan came out victorious after missing such a great chance.

“But then South Africa, too, had some three to four open-net misses,” he said.

“Pakistan have to control poor stopping and cover the crossing of the forward line, both towards the right and left, as the forwards just aren’t there on time to connect.

“Then out of the four penalty-corners that we got, we were only able to covert one. Meanwhile, South Africa got three and scored on two,” he added.

Lamenting Pakistan’s choice of goalkeeper, the senior Olympian said that Imran Shah helped Pakistan concede another four goals on Sunday.

“Going into the competition with one goalkeeper will remain a major blunder as Imran makes one mistake after another but cannot be replaced for there being no option. One of South Africa’s goals happened when Imran cleared the ball and their forward stopped it to send it right in again.

“When a goalkeeper clears the ball, he is to send it sideways, left or right, but Imran was technically wrong in pushing it out at 90 degrees where the forward was ready to score on rebound,” Islah pointed out.

“Now Pakistan have to win their last group match with Australia to reach the semi-finals. In case of a draw, the matter of moving into the last four will depend on the goals scored by the teams,” he said.

Saying so, he wished the team well while pointing out that Australia is known to play open and attacking hockey.

“That kind of open style allows both sides to score. If Pakistan play their Asian-style, attacking hockey and match Australia’s fast pace, they can even slow them down to control the match and turn it in their favour,” he concluded.

Pakistan play their final group match against Australia on Tuesday.


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Comments (12) (Closed)


ahsOn
Aug 06, 2012 01:34pm
good luck Pakistan we love u to saw in final four
rameez
Aug 06, 2012 05:23am
pak now improve our game statgy
muhammad Adil
Aug 06, 2012 05:59am
Hoping a very good match against Australia, and after winning against RSA, team morale is boosted and all the Pakistani’s praying for OUT Class Performance against Australian team, after this won, team will definitely thinking about the CHANCES MISSED by the top players against the RSA will not be happened again, Allah SWT keep this team winning and getting the Gold Medal for Pakistan Ameen
Faisal
Aug 06, 2012 07:50am
The team with great physical fitness, stamina, mental dexterity and better strategy will win. Based on current performance Australia is likely to outclass Pakistan, but anything can change on the day as the green shirts are a totally unpredictable side. Please remember that 12th ranked South Africa equalied 8th ranked Pakistan, so this win is not exactly commendable. Allah only helps those who are best prepared and do their level best.
Sameen Bawla
Aug 06, 2012 09:06am
Consider this match as the quarter final. There is no detour to a medal. Even if Pakistan lose, this team's performance has been exceptional.
Saad
Aug 06, 2012 02:22pm
Aussie is tough .... need to put enough!
Ahmed
Aug 06, 2012 04:30pm
All the best. We all know Ausies are superior side. Even if we may not win, please put the best effort.
Sillu
Aug 07, 2012 06:04am
Experts like Islah should be careful in choice of words like when he says "it it would have been a shame for Pakistan, who are ranked eighth in the world to lose to a team that is ranked 12th". Austrailia also got draw with Argentina but none of their experts passed such demotivating remarks.
Bashir Khattak
Aug 07, 2012 06:06am
We say best luck to Pakistan team and wish them victorious against Austrailia. Who say opponent team is unbeaten............................Long Live Pakistan
syed noman
Aug 07, 2012 06:07am
inshallah pakistan will win. but if they hardwork.and our prays for pakistani team..................
luqman
Aug 06, 2012 10:14pm
You can do it. Play tough and be confident. That's the way to go against the Aussies.
Zeeshan
Aug 07, 2012 02:37am
Imran Shah-the goalkeeper of Pakistan team- made blunders. He is not a good goalkeeper. Why do not they select the goalkeeper on merits! I strongly agree with Islah that they should have at least two goalkeepers They should have considered Fahad Afridi or somebody else instead of Imran Shah. Goog luck Pakistan!