SALALAH - Pakistan faced a heartbreaking defeat as they lost to arch-rivals India on penalties in a nail-biting final showdown at the Asia Hockey5s World Cup Qualifier. The highly anticipated match ended 4-4 in regular time on Saturday in Salalah, Oman.
Pakistan’s misfortune continued into the penalty shootout, where they were unable to convert any of their opportunities, while the Indian team showcased their composure, netting two crucial goals to secure the championship in a thrilling eight-goal encounter.
The action-packed game commenced with Pakistan’s Abdul Rehman scoring the opening goal for his team in the 5th minute, swiftly matched by Jugraj Singh’s equalizer just two minutes later. India briefly took the lead in the 10th minute when Maninder Singh found the back of the net.
However, Pakistan quickly responded, leveling the score once more just three minutes later. As the first half concluded, Pakistan held a narrow 3-2 lead, with Zikriya Hayat contributing another goal just a minute before the halftime whistle.
The second half added even more excitement to the match, with Arshad Liaquat extending Pakistan’s lead in the 19th minute. However, India was determined to make a comeback, as Mohammad Raheel scored twice in the second half, ensuring the match ended in a thrilling draw. The fate of the final was ultimately decided by the dramatic penalty shootout. Pakistan’s Mohammad Murtaza and Arshad were unable to convert their chances, while Maninder and Gujrot Singh held their nerve for India, with the latter delivering the winning shot. Throughout the tournament, Pakistan’s skipper, Rana Abdul Waheed, showcased his prowess, becoming the top-scorer with an impressive tally of 27 goals. Goalkeeper Abdullah Ishtiaq Khan earned recognition as the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament for his outstanding performance.
Both teams, India and Pakistan, have secured their places in the 2024 Hockey5s World Cup, slated to take place in Muscat, Oman, promising more thrilling encounters on the horizon.