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Pakistan in must-win clash against SA today

August 05, 2012

Following the forgettable 1-4 hammering at the hands of Great Britain on Friday, Pakistan now face an uphill task to record wins in both of their remaining group matches if the green-shirts want to remain in the race for semi-finals at London Olympics hockey event.

While Pakistan may register a win in their group ‘A’ clash against relatively easier opponents South Africa on Sunday, the toughest of the battles for Sohail Abbas and company will come in their last group game against world champions Australia on Tuesday. Breaking the Aussie juggernaut will certainly require something special from Pakistan who after their 1-1 draw against Spain and 2-0 win against Argentina, looked absolutely ordinary in their game against Britain.

Pakistan with four points from three matches are at the third place in group ‘A’. Australia and Great Britain are tied with seven points each, but a highly impressive goal average (+11) has kept Australia at the top above Britain (+6).

To improve on the dismal eighth position they earned at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Pakistan must finish at least third in their group.

Pakistan coach Khawaja Junaid insisted that the team had the capacity to make a comeback.

“No doubt Friday was a bad day for Pakistan when we lost a crunch match against Great Britain, but we are still in the run for semi-finals as we have two more matches to play. And our boys have the potential to bounce back,” Junaid emphasised.

“We missed some opportunities against Britain and paid the penalty. We got three penalty-corners in a row but could not convert any of those. Had we scored [at least] one goal at that moment, we could have staged a comeback,” he remarked.

Like Pakistan, Spain also need to win both their remaining matches against Great Britain and Argentina to make the semi-finals.

And though Britain currently occupy the second position, they face a tough task to maintain this slot, as they will clash with Australia and Spain in their last two group matches.

Today’s fixtures (all times PST) New Zealand v Belgium    (1230) Pakistan v South Africa    (1445) India v South Korea    (1745) Netherlands v Germany    (2000) Great Britain v Australia    (2300) Argentina v Spain    (0115, Monday) Points table (Tabulated under: country, matches played, win, draw, loss, goal for, goal against, points) Group ‘A’ Australia    3    2    1    0    13    2    7 Britain    3    2    1    0    10    4    7 Pakistan    3    1    1    1    4    5    4 Spain    3    1    1    1    4    8    4 Argentina    3    0    1    2    3    8    1 South Africa    3    0    1    2    4    11    1 Group ‘B’ Netherlands    3    3    0    0    11    4    9 Germany    3    3    0    0    8    3    9 South Korea    3    1    0    2    3    3    3 Belgium    3    1    0    2    4    6    3 New Zealand    3    1    0    2    4    8    3 India    3    0    0    3    5    11    0