ISLAMABAD/Lahore - Pakistan squash team reached semifinals of the 18th Asian Games men’s team event, after defeating South Korea in must-win match played in Jakarta on Thursday.

Earlier in Pool A match, Hong Kong thrashed Pakistan 3-0 to top the group. According to Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) Game Development Officer Flight Lieutenant Aamir Iqbal, Pakistan bounced back in style after defeat against the top seeds Hong Kong and it was a really good victory, as it will boost morale of the team ahead of the semifinals.

In the first match against Korea, Israr Ahmad was up against Lee Nyeon. Israr brushed aside Lee to win the encounter 3-0, winning it 11-5, 11-4 and 11-6. The second match saw Tayyab Aslam outclassing Lee Seungteak 3-0. It was like a cakewalk for experienced Tayyab, who the match 11-1, 11-5 and 11-8.

In the earlier match against Hong Kong, Pakistan lost 0-3. In the first match, Max Lee beat Asim Khan 3-1, winning the match 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 and 14-12. In the second match, Leo Au beat Israr Ahmed 3-0, winning it 11-8, 11-7 and 11-4, while in the third match, Yip Tsz Fung beat Amaad Fareed, 3-0, winning the encounter 11-6, 11-5 and 11-3.

Meanwhile in the field hockey, Pakistan were stunned by Japan 0-1 in the semifinals played at Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex, Jakarta. Japan achieved their biggest success in the Asian Games hockey, defeating Pakistan by a solitary goal in the semifinal to reach the final for the first time ever. Now, they meet Malaysia in what would be the first final of the Asian Games not featuring either Pakistan or India.

Earlier Malaysia went past India in a nerve-wrecking shootout after twice coming from behind in the regulation time which ended 2-2. So there will be a new gold medallist in the Asian Games men's hockey competition. Pakistan had won 8 gold medals, Korea four and India three, altogether winning 15 gold medals.

Pakistan, who had convincing wins in all the five pool matches, had the first opportunity but Ali Shan's attempt went out in the seventh minute. Then onward, Japan had more of the play in the first half. They had two open play chances as well as two penalty corners. Off the second penalty corner, Shota Yamada's strong flat push went through Imran Butt's pads. At the half time, Japan were leading 1-0.

Pakistan appeared a completely transformed side in the third period. Employing their traditional short passing game, they repeatedly entered the opponent's circle from both the sides but lacked the finishing. The two penalty corners coming their way were also wasted. Japan hardly entered Pakistani circle during these 15 minutes. The green shirts had the third penalty corner in the first minute of the fourth period but again failed to make it count. However, Japanese managed to weather the storm and regained composure.

The last quarter was evenly played as chances came to both the sides but there wasn't any dangerous attempt. The hooter sounded for the final time and the Japanese erupted into joyous celebration as they won the semifinal by 1-0.


Japan's sprinters conjured up the spirit of the Rio Olympics as they raced to Asian Games gold on Thursday, while Unified Korea moved within sight of an emotional women's basketball title. Two years after Japan won a stunning Olympic silver behind Usain Bolt's Jamaica, three of the same runners teamed up again for an emphatic 4x100 metres relay win in Jakarta.

This time around, Aska Cambridge had a clear track rather than Bolt in front of him as he thundered home in 38.16 seconds -- 0.61 ahead of Indonesia, who sent the home fans delirious as the hosts won their first relay medal since 1966. "We came here for the gold so we are happy to get the job done," said Japan's Ryota Yamagata. "We have pressure for the (Tokyo 2020) Olympics but we have confidence too."

Nigerian-born Edidiong Odiong clinched a sprint treble as Bahrain won the women's 4x100m relay in 42.73, to add to her 100m and 200m crowns. Bahraini athletes went one-two in the women's 1,500m and the men's 5,000m as the Gulf state finished the athletics programme level with China on 12 golds.

There were joyous scenes at the basketball as athletes from North and South Korea, competing together after a marked thaw in relations, trounced Taiwan 89-66 to set up a final against China. Beanpole centre Park Ji-su chipped in with 10 points -- one of six Korean players in double figures -- in her first game since being released by WNBA team the Las Vegas Aces.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Korea forward Kim Han-byul told AFP, after a win cheered on by fans brandishing the blue-and-white Korean unification flag. "It's definitely historical -- just the fact the North Korean girls are able to play with us," added Kim.

Japan were once known as the easy-beats of world rugby but they are more like the All Blacks against Asian opposition, a point they hammered home as they crushed Indonesia by a record 92-0 in sevens. Coincidentally, Japan's women also set a new Games record, and against the same opposition, when they spanked the hosts 65-0 -- the second biggest win in female sevens history, after Kazakhstan's 74-0 victory against Laos in 2014.

In cycling, Malaysia's "Pocket Rocketman" Azizulhasni Awang powered to men's sprint gold -- and then shaved off his moustache to celebrate. "I kept the moustache when I came to Jakarta to look a bit more fierce. Part of my gameplan," explained the 1.66m (5ft 5in) Olympic bronze medallist.

Uzbekistan finished with six out of seven gold medals in the Central Asian wrestling sport of kurash, while China won four of the six canoeing titles decided on Thursday. China also picked up another two diving titles and won the mixed doubles table tennis as they increased their haul to 112 gold medals, ahead of Japan's 59, 39 for South Korea and 30 for Indonesia.