Saturday, June 2, 2012

Foto: Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2012 - Malaysia vs Argentina

It was heartbreak for Great Britain as they watched from the stands where a solitary goal was enough to deny them a chance to play in the final against New Zealand.

But the story of the day was Pakistan’s fall from grace as the Asian Champions finished as wodden spoonists after they lost 2-1 to Great Britain.

The last time Pakistan had finished last was in the 1986 World Cup in London.

Argentina opened scoring in the 39th minute when a low drag flick by Pedro Ibarra went through the pads of Malaysian goalkeeper S. Kumar.

As for Pakistan, heads would surely roll upon their return and this fact was not discounted by coach Khajwa Junaid who said the one of the key reasons for their dismal performance was due to the fact they had included six juniors who played in the Junior Asia Cup early May in Malacca, Malaysia.

The six are Kashif Shah, Khalid Bhatti, M Rizwan Junior, Muhammad Tauseeq, Muhammad Umar Bhutta and Ali Shan

“We now realise that it was asking too much from these youngsters who could not coipe with the demands of playing in back to back tournament,” said Junaid.

“We really had no choice but to include them as this is the team that will leave for the Europe tour two days upon our return to Pakistan.”

Junaid said that they would leave it to the national selectors with regards to the inclusion of any of the eight players that faced disciplinary issues after they participated in the unsanctioned World Hockey Series in India last March.

Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi were fined USD10,870 while Waseem Ahmed, Zeeshan Ashraf, Imran Warsi, Adnan Maqsood, Tariq Aziz and Mudassar Ali Khan received fines of USD2,717 each.

“The chief selector Hanif Khan has been monitoring the performance of this team via the TV telecasts and I have been in touch with him,” said Junaid.

“So far the inclusion of any of those players has never been brought up as we are awaiting word from FIH with regards to the sanctions against these players.”

Pakistan’s last placing was their worst ever performance in the history of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup since the inaugural event. Prior to this the three times champion’s worst finish was a sixth placing in a eight team event in 2007.

“Not that I am offering excuses for our performances here but the reality is that we failed to convert the chances that we created,” said Junaid.

“We were not consistent and in some matches we held the edge but could not finish off the game.”

As for Great Britain coach Jason Lee, the team that played in the Azlan Shah Cup will be retained for the Olympics with two players to be left out.

“We have 18 players here and the final squad for the Olympics will come from this team” said Jason.

“We would have made the final had we not dropped vital points against Malaysia where we were 3-1 up but conceded two late goals.

“But on the hindsight it has been a good tournament for me as we had a variety of opponents and I picked up a lot of pointers that will serve us well this summer.”

Meanwhile Korea defeated New Zealand 1-0 in a match that really had no bearing to the fortunes of both teams.

New Zealand had already assured themselves of a place in Sunday’s final. Korea scored the winner in the 68th minute through Jang Jong Hyun.

Argentina defeated Malaysia 1-0 to qualify for the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.