05 Nov 2016
Pakistan make first ever final Featured
Pakistan has never made the final of the Sultan Johor Cup in their five attempts so far.
So making the final for the first time has given the team the much needed morale booster, never mind the fact that they will be up against Australia, a team that whipped them 8-1 only two nights ago.
Pakistan's best ever placing in the five editions of the tournament has been a fourth placing.
But Tahir Zaman has whipped a team that was considered rank outsiders before the tournament into a champion material,
Players like skipper Mohammad Dilber and Riaz have churned out master class performances to lead Pakistan into the final after defeated Japan 2-1 in a decider on Saturday.
"The final is a different day and it will be a different match ... not a bullying match," said Tahir after seeing off Japan.
"The first target coming here was to be on the podium and we've done that. So there will be less pressure on my players in the final. It's a pressure facing Australia because of their strength but I want to see my players enjoy their game.
Pakistan were organised from the very start and wasted no time in taking the lead after Abu Bakar Mahmood scored from a penalty corner in the fourth minute before doubling his personal tally in the 11th minute from open play.
Japan were slow to get their act together but managed to pulled one back through Kyohei Ogawa's field goal in the 21st minute. Japan had numerous chances as the match progressed - including a penalty corner just after the hooter - but could not find a crucial second goal that would have put them in the final instead of Pakistan.
Japan coach Kyoichi Nagaya said the Pakistanis were faster and his players only became systematic after being two goals down. Yet he was satisfied with their overall display.
"It's disappointing to miss out on the final after coming close but I'm satisfied with how we've done since the start of this competition and we'll be out to finish third on Sunday," said Nagaya.
Published in General