BHUBANESWAR: Pakistan and Malaysia face each other in a must-win Pool ‘D’ clash on Wednesday with both sides having opened their Hockey World Cup campaigns with losses and both fully aware that their only realistic chance of making it to the knockouts is against each other.
A spirited Pakistan went down 1-0 to Germany but it was much worse for Malaysia as they were thrashed 7-0 by the Netherlands and the two Asian rivals will be gunning for victory which will at least make them eligible for the crossover games if not directly for the quarter-finals.
“Coming into the tournament, both Malaysia and Pakistan know that they have their work cut out against Germany and Netherlands,” Pakistan midfielder Umar Bhutta said.
“We had a better outing against Germany but that does not mean we can take Malaysia lightly just because they lost by a big margin to Netherlands. Luck, I believe, will separate both the teams in this crucial World Cup match.”
The two teams head into the game with Pakistan having won each of their last three encounters. Malaysia will be counting on their coach Roelant Oltmans, previously with Pakistan, to provide them with the inside knowledge of their opponents.
During his eight-month stint with Pakistan, Oltmans helped forge a resolute defence, which showed when they restricted Germany to just one goal in their first match.
“I know the Pakistan players well and what I built in the team, I can take it down as well,” said Oltmans. “We are targeting a win against Pakistan. We are realistic about our chances at the World Cup.”
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018