LAHORE – Pakistan hockey players survive the first challenge elegantly when they did not lose to Beijing Olympics silver-medallists and one of the two hot favourites to make it last four from Group B Spain. The opening match in any competition is difficult for both the teams but Pakistan on the whole played well against Spain and the draw they earned will pave way for their chances to advance to knock out phase.
It was a surprising show from an unpredictable side who were just overwhelmed by their European opponents just a few days back in the pre-Olympics warm-up matches. The seniors have started making their presence and worth felt with a forceful impact. So the draw has raised a little ray of hope among the hockey lovers that may be Pakistan can stand on the podium this time around. But it’s too early to suggest and the outcome of today’s game against Argentina will determine the Green Shirts prospects in the event. Pakistan should go for a kill in this match to earn full three points. While going into the match, the confidence of Pakistan players will be high as compared to Argentineans who were mauled by the hosts Great Britain 4-1 in their opening match.
With this psychological edge, Pakistan also need some supremacy in the field too and the way they played against Spain, if they succeeded to hold on to that momentum, they can overcome on any side of the world.
The form of skipper Sohail Abbas is crucial to Pakistan as he failed to convert any of the penalty corners into goal. His technique, speed and execution of the flick were very good and he was unlucky not to get any goal. But he also should play tactically and should aim at corners of the goal post too instead of sending every attempt in the middle of the post. Pakistan’s forward also need to develop the ability to finish a move into a goal as they missed three genuine goal opportunities in the previous match. One only can get as many good chances in big matches and if forwards cannot capitalise on these chances, it will be difficult to go very far in the event.
The speed with which Spanish got equaliser, should also be a matter of concern for the coaches and defenders. Pakistan should not have let their defence relax to avoid such situations and prolong the advantage till the very end of the game. Pakistan should take care not to give big gaps for the opponents to get in and score.
Match starts at