Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Pakistan fall as ‘dead sport’ recaptures audience once again

Published May 11, 2024
Japan lift the trophy as they win against Pakistan in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV
Japan lift the trophy as they win against Pakistan in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV
Japan celebrate as they defeat Pakistan in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV
Japan celebrate as they defeat Pakistan in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV
Pakistan vs Japan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 final on Saturday.— DawnNewsTV
Pakistan vs Japan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 final on Saturday.— DawnNewsTV

Japan defeated Pakistan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in a penalty shootout on Saturday after the game between the two Asian sides ended in a draw in normal time.

The Japanese side drew first blood against Pakistan as they opened the scoring in the first half after the latter’s weak defence let in the Japanese forward from the left wing.

Pakistan drew level in and then took the lead against Japan in the second half, turning the tie around with two goals in quick succession.

The Japanese side then equalised late to send the game to a penalty shootout.

Japan won the tie as they converted all four penalties in the shootout while Pakistan only managed one out of three.

The Pakistan hockey team played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 final after a gap of 13 years.

The finalists had already been decided before the last round of matches was played and Japan’s 3-1 win over Canada saw them finish two points above Paki­stan in the table.

The final of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament was played in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Pakistan continued their then-unbeaten run at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a creditable 1-1 draw against New Zealand in their last round-robin mat­ch yesterday.

Pakistan and Japan had played out a 1-1 draw in their round-robin encounter and Pakistan’s coach Roelant Oltmans expected another tight match in the final.

“Japan have neither scored many goals nor conceded many. They are a good side,” Oltmans told reporters after the ma­tch against New Zealand.

“We need to open them up. We have the players to do it, but it will not be easy. They are compact and organised defensively.”

Pakistan fell behind to Paris Olympics-bound New Zealand when Luke Hol­mes scored in the 35th minute but kept their unbeaten run intact thanks to Abu Bakr Mahmood’s penalty corner conversion eight minutes later.

“The first half was New Zealand’s and the second half was ours,” Oltmans told reporters.

“Our start was not good and we conceded two penalty comers in the first minute.

“But this cannot happen in the final against Japan. The players did very well in this tournament but I am not satisfied with our performances in the first half. We were terrible in ball possession. We lost it even before can could even dominate the game. It is not the way we should play. The boys came out really good and we created penalty corner opportunities. We managed to score even with one player less,” he said.

The government and the nation expressed their best wishes for the team in the final and had hoped for a victorious outcome.

PM lauds ‘outstanding performance’

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the “outstanding performance” of the national team, adding that winning or losing was part of the game.

“The national team has won the hearts of the entire nation,” the PM Media Office said in a press release quoting the prime minister.

He reiterated that the government was taking all steps to promote sports in the country, particularly hockey.

He earlier congratulated the side for making it to the tournament final after 13 years.

Shehbaz said that renewed interest in hockey throughout Pakistan signalled a promising trend for the future.

President Asif Ali Zardari also appreciated the “excellent performance” and said that the development and promotion of hockey needed attention.

“It is hoped that the Pakistani hockey team will perform better in the future,” the president said.

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz earlier expressed her best wishes for the Pakistan side.

“Pakistan will emerge victorious in the final against Japan. The team’s performance captured the nation’s attention, and hopes are high for a triumphant outcome.” Maryam said.

“Pakistanis are fervently praying for victory,” she added.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti had commended the team for their previously undefeated record.

“Insha’Allah, Pakistan will win the final match; the Pakistani hockey team deserves recognition for making it to the championship game after 13 years,” he said.

The government made special arrangements to broadcast the match live for the public.

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