Japan beat Pakistan on penalties to win Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024

IPOH  -  Japan were crowned the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 champions as they secured a nerve-testing 4-1 victory over Pakistan in the penalty shoot-out. Pakistan and Japan, both unbeaten in the tournament, went hard at each other in the final and turned out to be inseparable by the end of the full time as their scores remained tied at 2-2. Japan started the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 final on a positive note when Seren Tanaka scored a field goal in the 12th minute. Their early lead persisted till the conclusion of the first quarter and the entirety of the second despite Pakistan’s several attempts for an equaliser. Pakistan then finally got the reward for their attacking approach in the third quarter as Ajaz Ahmed struck in the 34th minute. The Green Shirts then took the lead in an enthralling final as Abdul Rahman in the 37th minute. Trailing by one goal, Japan scripted a brilliant comeback as Kazumasa Matsumoto netted the equaliser just two minutes into the final quarter. Both sides then made multiple efforts to score the tie-breaker but the scoreline remained intact at 2-2, forcing the enthralling final to be decided on the penalty shoot-out. Japan displayed a dominating performance in the penalty shoot-out by converting all four penalties while Pakistan could score one, which came in the third attempt when Ammad Butt successfully buried the ball in the nets. For the unversed, this was Pakistan’s first appearance in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final after a long 13-year hiatus. The national men’s hockey team gave brilliant performances throughout the tournament defeating hosts Malaysia, South Korea and Canada while settling for a stalemate against New Zealand in the group stage.

 Pakistan also locked horns with Japan in the round match and held the eventual champions for a 1-1 draw.

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