KARACHI: Pakistan and India would face each other if they won their semi-finals of Asian Champions Trophy on Saturday (today) against Malaysia and South Korea, respectively.
Pakistan are the defending champions.
Experts declared the match between Pakistan and Malaysia a most interesting one and said the Green-shirts would have to play bravely. They said Malaysia were always tough on their home soil. They are in form and very fit, they said.
Malaysia have had a terrific run in the tournament with a 4-2 victory over Pakistan in the opening match, 5-1 over China and 7-2 over Japan. They lost to India 1-2.
Pakistan edged South Korea 1-0, beat Japan 4-3 and outclassed China 4-0.
Pakistan’s former goalkeeper Olympian Shahid Ali Khan told ‘The News’ that Pakistan would have to go all out in the semi-final and play courageously.
“The Malaysians are always tough on their home soil and their present team is young and super-fit and playing well. Pakistan will have to play with a solid strategy.
“The defence and the goalkeeper must give their best in the semi-final because Pakistan have been excellent in other departments.
“Pakistan’s forward line and penalty corner specialists are doing well. They scored goals against all teams. Pakistan need to consolidate their defence and goalkeeping.
“If Pakistan and India reached the final it would be great,” Shahid said.
Olympian Naveed Alam said that Pakistan were playing attacking hockey. He said Pakistan lost against Malaysia and India but they could bounce back as Pakistan had played well in both games. “They took lead, but surrendered it later. They need to strengthen the defence and goalkeeping.
“Malaysia have an edge as the hosts but they are not better than Pakistan whose forward line has been playing outstandingly,” he added.
Naveed said the team management should go with a changed strategy and direct players to cover gaps.
He said attack would be the best option in the semi-final as it would bring the rivals under pressure.
He further said that forwards Irfan Junior, Haseem Khan and Ali Shan were playing well. “They are able to smash any defence. Aleem Bilal has also proved a dangerous penalty corner flicker in the tournament. There is need to make the defenders and the goalkeeper mentally tough,” Naveed said.
He said it would be great fun if Pakistan and India reached the final. “We will see wonderful hockey in that case,” he said.
The match, in the Malaysian city of Kuantan, will begin at 5:30 pm (PST).