CHENNAI-Afraz’s match-winner lifted Pakistan to keep their semi-final hopes alive with a convincing 2-1 victory over China in the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy.
Pakistan started the game on a high as they maintained pressure on the Chinese defence right from the start and soon got the reward in the 19th minute, courtesy of Muhammad Sufiyan Khan’s brilliant goal. The green shirts completely dominated the first half while Chinese players struggled to keep possession. However, Jiesheng Gao helped level things for China with an excellent flick from a penalty corner in the 32nd minute.
China’s comeback into the game was however cut short as Afraz scored in the 39th minute to give Pakistan a match-defining lead. The green shirts put on a great effort to prevent China from firing the equalizer and thus tasted their maiden success in the ongoing Asian Champions Trophy.
Pakistan’s Rana Abdul, who was adjudged the player of the match termed the victory over China a crucial one and revealed that the young team is looking forward to their tie against arch-rivals India. “This game was really crucial for us. The young team played incredibly and we are looking forward to the India game,” said Abdul in the post-match presentation. Pakistan’s first win in the Asian Champions Trophy propelled them to fourth place.
Meanwhile, China’s hopes of reaching the semifinals have been diminished. Notably, Pakistan was winless in the Asian Champions Trophy before this game, as they drew 3-3 against Japan yesterday.
Prior to that, they drew 1-1 against defending champions South Korea, while, they were handed a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Malaysia in their first game. Pakistan will now face arch-rivals India on August 9, while China will face Japan in their final group-stage match on the same day.
This is the seventh edition of the Asian Champions Trophy. Pakistan have won the tournament in 2012 and 2013, while India have won in 2011 and 2016. The 2018 edition saw Pakistan and India jointly sharing the trophy as the final was forfeited due to persistent rain. Defending champions South Korea won the tournament in 2021 after thumping Japan on penalties.