Pakistan on Friday secured a tie in their match against New Zealand in the 30th Azlan Shah Hockey Cup.

Pakistan’s fifth match today, which was played in Malaysia’s Ipoh city at 1pm (PKT), saw them remain unbeaten throughout the tournament.

The match ended in a draw, with both teams securing one point each, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) said.

Senior player Ammad Shakeel is leading the 18-member squad with Abu Bakr as the vice-captain.

Japan lead the points table with 13 points while Pakistan rank second with 11 points. New Zealand hold the third position with seven points while Malaysia follow them with a point less.

According to the PHF, both Pakistan and New Zealand had not scored by half-time. New Zealand then succeeded in scoring a field goal in the 35th minute of the game.

However, Abu Bakr amassed a goal for Pakistan in the 43rd minute while playing at the penalty corner.

Pakistan and Japan had already qualified for the final match, which will take place at 5:30pm (PKT) on Saturday at the Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh, after winning their respective matches on Wednesday.

Pakistan had defe­ated Canada 5-4 while Japan beat hosts Malaysia 2-1.

According to Radio Pakistan, Pakistan have won their three matches against Malaysia, South Korea and Canada while the ones against Japan and New Zealand ended in a draw.

Meanwhile, after their 3-1 victory against Canada today, Japan have four wins plus a draw.

Earlier this month, head coach Roelant Oltmans had said he expected an improved show by Pakistan in the tournament.

Oltmans, 69, has served Pakistan’s senior and junior teams in different roles since 2004 and was involved with the youth side in his most recent stint.

Pakistan won the Azlan Shah Cup title thrice — in 1999, 2000 and 2003 — and came third in the last edition which was also held in Ipoh in 2022. Malaysia are the defending champions of this year’s edition.

Govt expresses support to players ahead of final

Addressing the squad via video link, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar reiterated the government’s commitment to hockey while also mentioning a campaign across all forms of media to highlight the team’s achievements in the Azlan Shah Cup, according to a report from state-run Radio Pakistan.

He added that the prime minister would focus on removing obstacles in the development of hockey in Pakistan.

Tara said final would be broadcast nationwide tomorrow on Saturday and wished the team luck.

“The entire nation is praying for the victory of Pakistan and is looking forward to welcome a champion team.”

Rana Mashood Ahmed, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme, also congratulated the team for reaching the final after thirteen years.

He added that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would also host the team on its return and address issues impeding hockey’s development in the country.

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...
Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...