Asian Champions Trophy: Pakistan trounces Oman; Malaysia seals semis spot
The off-field drama that led to the recalling of Pakistan coach Muhammad Saqlain midway through the fifth Asian Champions Trophy on Sunday hardly had any impact on its team as the two-time winner thumped Oman 8-1 for its second victory in the tournament at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on Monday.
Pakistan, which lost 1-3 to its arch-rival India on Saturday, proved too good for the hosts as Hasan Sardar-coached Green Brigade toyed with the hosts, who suffered its third successive defeat in the tournament.
Aleem Bilal hammered a treble and got the former champion off the mark with a rasping penalty corner in the 13th minute and the drag-flicker made it 2-0 five minutes later with another penalty corner flick. In between, Bilal played an assist role in another goal as he squared the ball to Muhammad Irfan Jr, who deflected the ball past Oman goalkeeper Fahad al Noufali.
Ammad Butt scored one of the five successful penalty corners in the 26th minute to give Pakistan a 4-0 lead at half-time.
Pakistan continued to make the penalty corners count as Bilal squared the ball to his left for Muhammad Irfan to score the fifth goal in the 34th minute. Five minutes later Bilal found his third with another penalty corner hit.
Abu Mahmood capitalised on a rebound from the goalkeeper in goalmouth scrimmage in the 45th minute and Muhammad Atiq rounded off the scoring with a field goal in the 52nd.
To add to Oman's misery was Ahmed Bait getting yellow card twice in the third and fourth quarter. Despite the big loss, Oman had its moments in the match and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. It salvaged a consolation goal when Mohammed al Lawati scored in the last minute of play.
Earlier, Salah al Saadi became the second Omani player to play his 100th international match. In February, Mahmood al Hasani became the first Omani to reach the milestone.
Pakistan victory enabled it to have one foot into the semifinals. With six points and an imposing goal-difference in its favour, it is favourite to make it into the last-four with league games against Japan and Malaysia remaining.
Malaysia in semis
Earlier in the first match of the evening, Malaysia had to work hard for its third successive victory, overcoming South Korea 4-2 to secure a place in the semifinals.
Asian Games silver medallist Malaysia will take on defending champion India in a league encounter on Tuesday. Both the teams have won three matches each. The match kicks off at 9.10pm.
This will be the first meeting between Malaysia and India since their semifinal clash in the Jakarta Asian Games, where Malaysia posted a shock win to advance to the final, before losing to Japan.
Malaysia took the lead through Firhan Ashari in the 11th minute, but the Koreans shot back to surge 2-1 ahead with goals from Yang Ji-Hun (15th minute) and Jang Jong-Hyun (20th).
Shahril Saabah drew level for Malaysia in the 22nd minute, but the issue was decided through goals from Tengku Tajuddin (35th) and Faizal Saari (57th).
Malaysia’s coach, Roelant Oltmans said the team had attained its first target of making to the semifinals. “The important thing is that we scored four goals. The Koreans can be very tough opponents,” said Oltmans.