Pakistan complete hat-trick of defeats in Festival Hockey

MELBOURNE – Pakistan hockey team were beaten 3-2 Saturday by New Zealand even after they performed better than their opponents in the first half of the match during their last International Festival of Hockey match in Melbourne and Bendigo.

Australia have taken form into Sunday’s final with a comprehensive 6-1 victory over Japan. Blake Govers scored a double, while Daniel Beale, Jeremy Hayward, Josh Pollard and Tom Wickham all netted singles in the win which made it three wins from three group games for Australia.

Australia had already clinched their spot in Sunday’s decider, but the identity of their opponent was to be determined by the result, with Japan missing out by a goal, after New Zealand’s 3-2 win over Pakistan earlier in the day.

Pakistan opened the scoring with M Umar Bhutta in the sixth minute of the first quarter as he converted a penalty corner.

Twelve minutes later, in the second quarter, Hayden Phillips completed New Zealand’s move across the field and brought his team on equal terms against Pakistan in the 18th minute.

Ammad Shakeel Butt then helped Pakistan take the lead once again as he pushed the ball into the net courtesy a penalty stroke, just five minutes after the half-time in the 35th minute.

It took New Zealand only two minutes to end the deficit and come on level terms after George Muir netted through a field goal in the 37th minute.

No team were able to score after in the next 20 minutes, but New Zealand, who were now playing without a goalkeeper and with 11 field players, earned a penalty corner and converted it in the 57th minute to end match with a scoreline of 3-2.

“We are not happy with our performance,” lamented Pakistan captain M Irfan. “We could have performed better than we did. Although we played better against New Zealand as compared to the first two matches, but overall, I am not satisfied.” He then revealed the problem that he identified as the main reason for Pakistan’s defeats.

“We are having trouble in creating a good team combination,” he explained. “Right now our combination is not working at all. The new players in the team are not able to follow the flow of the team which affects our forward moves; they are either broken down in the middle or finish without any success.”

Irfan continued that the team will try its best to beat Japan in the third-fourth placement match. “In the third place match we will try our best to overcome Japan and show that playing matches together as a unit does improve individual and team performances,” he said.

Beale opened the scoring for Australia in the ninth minute with a powerful finish from close range, before Govers doubled Australia’s advantage seconds later from a penalty corner.

Hayward rocketed home from a second quarter penalty corner with Pollard tapping home from close range to stretch the lead to 4-0 at the main break.

Wickham and Govers added further goals in the third period, before Hirotaka Zendana scored from a penalty corner moments before the final break.

Japan searched for the goal which would’ve sent them through to the Final on goals scored ahead of the Black Sticks but they couldn’t find the breakthrough.

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