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Pak hold Malaysia with late goal
December 05, 2006 16:49 IST
Last Updated: December 05, 2006 16:50 IST
A last-minute goal by Muhammad Zubair helped Pakistan score a face-saving 1-1 draw with Busan Asiad bronze medallists Malaysia in their opening match of the Asian Games hockey competition in Doha on Monday night.
Before the equaliser came, a minute before the final whistle, it looked like Pakistan would suffer the same fate that met them in Busan, where Malaysia had beaten them in the third place match.
Both sides did everything except scoring in the first half, though Pakistan was the dominating force.
Skipper Rehan Butt and striker Shakeel were the worst offenders, both missing golden sitters in both halves.
Malaysia jolted Pakistan when they converted a 52nd minute penalty-corner through captain Shanmuganathan.
Pakistan desperately launched a goal-hunt in the last ten minutes but most of the attacks were blocked by a solid Malaysian defence or their 'keeper, Jamaluddin.
And just when all seemed lost for Pakistan, Imran Khan sent in a sizzling cross in the 69th minute to Zubair, whose deflection sailed to the roof of the Malaysian net much to the relief of the team and its fans.
"It was a very close match and thank god we managed to draw it, as we were not in a position to suffer a defeat," said team captain Rehan Butt.
His logic was that team was under pressure as it had lost to the same side four years ago in the bronze medal play-off and that is "why it could not perform up to its full potential".
"We hope to get our touch and confidence in the coming matches, as this result will serve as a lesson for us; now we have to strike up our best performance to keep our chances alive in the tournament," he added.
Coach Shahnaz Sheikh said the forwards missed chances but he was relieved that his team scored in the closing session.
"A draw is better than losing a match," he said, adding "we have no choice but to show better results in the coming matches."
In another pool '�' match Chinese Taipei beat Hong Kong 1-0.
Pakistan plays Hong Kong on Tuesday.