Pakistan beats wasteful India to retain men’s hockey gold

Pakistan continued its supremacy in men’s hockey in South Asian Games as it beat a wasteful India by a solitary goal in the final to retain the gold, here at the Maulana Tyabullah Hockey Stadium on Friday.

India, which won the women’s gold a day before, had to be content with the silver. Bangladesh had earlier picked up the bronze beating Sri Lanka 4-1.   -  PTI

Pakistan continued its supremacy in men’s hockey in South Asian Games as it beat a wasteful India by a solitary goal in the final to retain the gold, here at the Maulana Tyabullah Hockey Stadium on Friday. India, which won the women’s gold a day before, had to be content with the silver. Bangladesh had earlier picked up the bronze beating Sri Lanka 4-1.

Pakistan nudged ahead in the last minute of first half when the Indian defence appeared to be resting on its oars. Muhammad Arslan Qadir took a reverse hit from the edge of the semi-circle as Awais-Ur-Rehman came ahead of the Indian goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya to flick the ball home (1-0). Pakistan started aggressively and earned a penalty corner in the seventh minute. Dahiya made a fine save on the drag-flick by Abdul Khan before Aleem Bilal’s attempt on the rebound went over the bar.

Shan Ali had the second opportunity for Pakistan in the 12th minute but Nilam Xess made a fine save on the goal-line to salvage situation for India. Pakistan midfield looked more organised initially and created a few good opportunities for its attack. The goal remained elusive as the Indian defence handled the pressure well.

Cohesive unit

Fielding nine members from the side that played the 2012 London Olympics, Pakistan definitely looked a formidable side against the relatively tenderfoot Indians, who at times looked overawed by the skills of the opponent. With most of the top Indian players busy with different franchises in the ongoing Hockey India League, the second-choice team did well creating some good scoring opportunities later in the first half.

Lapse in concentration

Umar Mohammad faltered in front of an open goal in the 20th minute and failed to place home a nice pass from Gurbaj Singh. Next minute, Gagandeep Singh sent his attempt wide on the advertisement boards as P.L. Thimanna repeated the tentativeness on the goalmouth in the 30th minute to keep the host waiting. Pakistan found the goal just as the Indian defence appeared to be congratulating themselves on having done a good job.

India had some more chances after the change of ends as Manpreet Singh missed a sitter in the 56th minute. The young midfielder did the difficult job of sending the ball wide when he had just to push it inside an open goal. India earned two penalty-corners in the 65th and 70th minutes but squandered both of them making haphazard attempts. The gold in the end came as a convincing reward for Pakistan, which had bettered India 2-1 in the league stage.

The result: Pakistan 1 (Awais-Ur-Rehman 35) bt India 0.