Lahore : In the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup under 21 hockey in Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Pakistan juniors faced Australia, who had beaten them 8-1 just two days back in the round robin.
Many anticipated a big Australian victory. But Pakistanis gave an excellent fight to the top ranked side.
The first half was very well contested.
Greenshirts surprised everyone when they went ahead in the seventh minute through the first penalty corner. Instead of Abu Bakr, Pakistan’s regular striker, also their top scorer in the event with four goals, it was 6′ 3″ tall Hassan Anwar who took it. His fast high flick on goal keeper’s left side was unstoppable.
Australia replied in the similar manner within six minutes. Gerrard Frazer’s PC conversion was almost a replica of Hassan Anwar’s effort.
Game’s tempo went up. Pakistani showed good composure in defence and were fast on turn overs.
A melee in Pakistani circle resulted in Australia’s second penalty corner in 32nd minute. Goal keeper Muneeb brilliantly palmed it away with an outstretched left arm.
Second half’s first 15 minutes were dominated by the Aussies who repeatedly entered opponents’ circle. Three more penalty corners came their way. On the fifth of the day, the PC hit stuck Pakistani line stopper’s foot. The resultant penalty stroke was cashed in on by Blake Govers and Australia were 2-1 ahead in the 47th minute.
Pakistan’s sporadic attacks did create a few chances including their second PC of the day but Australian deep defence kept the lead intact.
With just four minutes left, Blake Govers’ second goal, off a PC, sealed Pakistan’s fate.
Pakistan should take a lot of heart from their splendid performance here. They had never finished above 4th place at any of the five previous editions of Sultan of Johor Cup. In the last two events, they were last sixth. And this time Pakistan played the final.
The magnificent result could not have come at a better time- just four weeks before the Junior World Cup.
Pakistan: Hasan Anwar 7′
Australia: Gerrard Frazer 13′ Blake Govers 47′ & 67′
1. Australia, 2.Pakistan, 3.Japan, 4.England, 5.Malaysia, 6.New Zealand