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Pakistan have it easy in opener

January 08, 2004 16:28 IST
Last Updated: January 08, 2004 16:29 IST

Defending champions Pakistan used their individual skills to maximum advantage while scrambling to a 4-2 victory against South Korea in the opening match of the 13th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at the National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

For Pakistan, right winger Rehan Butt emerged the star of the day with two brilliant goals from difficult angles in the  14th and 42nd minutes.

Skipper Nadeem Ahmed knocked in the second in the 39th and finally Shabbir Hussain (68th) ensured a comfortable win.

The Koreans, who scored through Seong Jong Ho (35th) and Lee Jung Seon (43rd), would have lost by a bigger margin had it not been for a gift goal in the 35th minute, courtesy umpire Stefan Brenner of Germany. The incident triggered a minor verbal altercation on the sidelines between the two benches.

The major difference between the two teams, apart from the individual skills of the Pakistanis, was the rather languid defending by the Koreans who surprisingly left far too many gaps near the top of their circle.

Though they did not concede even a single penalty-corner, while themselves forcing nine with one conversion, the  Pakistani forwards enjoyed much space that they capitalised on.

Butt drew first blood when he outran the defence on the right on a Hussain pass to slam in from a difficult angle.

Later, in the second-half, put through again by Hussain, he dodged past the goalkeeper for another classic strike that would have warmed the hearts of old-timers.

The Korean defence slipped again when Kashif Jawad was left free inside the circle to receive a Butt centre. The ball got delfected to Nadeem, who came steaming in and banged it in from the top of the circle.

The fourth Pakistani goal had Shabbir converting a Hussain pass with the Korean defence caught flat-footed.

On their part, the Koreans fought gallantly. Their first goal came out of the blue when Brennar allowed the game to continue despite injured half-back Waseem Ahmed writhing in pain and falling to the ground.

The Pakistanis put the ball out of play and relaxed anticipating a time-out call by umpire. But the Koreans went on to take the hit-in and Ho scored from the top of the circle past an immobile Pakistani defence.

On resumption, after falling 1-3 behind, the Koreans pulled one back on Seon's penalty-corner conversion before the Pakistanis drew shutters down by controlling the pace.

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