Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Nov 4 (IANS) The Indian junior men’s hockey team defeated Pakistan 3-3 (6-5 SO) in a hard-fought 3rd/4th place match on Saturday to clinch the Bronze medal at the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup.
The action-packed encounter saw Arun Sahani (11’), Poovanna CB (42’), and Captain Uttam Singh (52’) score for India while Sufyan Khan (33’), Abdul Qayyum (50’), and Captain Shahid Hannan (57’) scored for Pakistan to end regulation time at 3-3.
The penalty shootouts went all the way to sudden death as India’s goalkeeper Mohith H.S denied Pakistan Captain to clinch Bronze with a nervy 6-5 shootout win.
The game started with both teams cautiously probing for chances. Pakistan’s goalkeeper Ali Raza was called into action halfway through the first quarter, as Gurjot Singh stayed alert in the circle and unleashed a reverse shot that sailed just wide of the post. As India looked to press for the opening goal it was Arun Sahani who stepped up to deflect Rohit’s searching pass into goal. Pakistan was under pressure towards the end of the quarter with India creating a couple of chances and forcing Ali Raza to save.
Pakistan attempted to retain possession in India’s half in search of an equaliser in the second quarter, earning two penalty corners but failed to capitalise on either of them. Meanwhile, India kept the Pakistan defence on their toes with the occasional counterattack. However, neither team managed to change the scoreline in their favour heading into the second half.
Pakistan’s hard work bore fruit in the second half with Sufyan Khan slotting the ball into Mohith HS’s net from a penalty corner. A period of Pakistani dominance followed but the Indian defence remained resilient. With three minutes left in the quarter, Poovanna CB flicked the ball into goal after a missed penalty corner to restore India’s lead.
In the last quarter, Pakistan seemed determined to equalize again, pinning India back in their own circle. As the pressure continued to mount it was Pakistan’s Abdul Qayyum who breached India’s goal to bring the teams back on level terms. But India flipped the switch, taking the game to Pakistan and it wasn’t too long before Captain Uttam Singh scored from a chaotic penalty corner, to make it 3-2. Pakistan threw in the kitchen sink in their search for an equaliser, creating numerous penalty corners and it was Pakistan Captain Shahid Hannan who made 3-3 with his goal at the end of the regulation time, taking the game to penalty shootouts.
Pakistan’s Arshad Liaqat, Hannan Shahid, Abdul Rehman, and Ahtisham Aslam found the back of the net in the penalty shootout while Vishnukant Singh, Rajinder Singh, Angad Bir Singh, and Uttam Singh answered back with goals of their own to take it sudden death. Vishnukant Singh and Arshad Liaqat converted their respective chances in sudden death, although, after Angad Bir Singh converted his chance India’s keeper, Mohith HS shadowed Shahid Hannan perfectly to tackle him and sealed the glorious victory for the Indian Junior Men’s Hockey Team.