MUSCAT, October 19: Two-time winners Pakistan began their Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 campaign with a 3-1 victory over Korea at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex here today.
Goals form Ajaz Ahmed (12th minute), Umar Bhutta (18th) and captain Muhammad Rizwan Senior (42nd) gave Pakistan a firm grip before Korea pulled one back in the last quarter through Kim Hyeong-Jin (51st).
Bhutta featured in the first two goals. He set up the opening goal with a square pass inside the circle for Ajaz to shoot in. Six minutes later, Bhutta picked up a rebound from the goalkeeper and flicked it into the net.
Leading from the front, captain Rizwan Senior exchanged two short passes on the left flank before shooting on target. He was adjudged Hero Player of The Match. A defensive lapse by Pakistan allowed Korea to pull a goal back late in the match.
Gaining maximum three points, Pakistan now looks forward to the key sub-continental encounter against defending champions India tomorrow, which captain Rizwan said would be a close encounter between two attacking sides. “It is nice to start with three points. Winning this match was important before we go into the game against India,” said Rizwan.
It will be the first encounter between the two teams since the bronze medal contest in the Asian Games in Jakarta. The Asian Games were a big disappointment to both these teams. India had won the playoff between the losing semi-finalists to claim the bronze medal.
Pakistan team’s manager Hasan Sardar said his team could have scored at least two more goals today.
“We wasted a few chances infield play and also failed to convert both our penalty corners,” said Sardar. “I am not too concerned about the penalty corners as we were trying to score field goals.”
Sardar said the match against India would produce exciting hockey for the spectators. “I am told the game is a sell-out. It will be a thrilling game as always between two teams playing traditional Asian hockey,” he said.