Pakistan defeat Japan 4-1 in Azlan Shah Cup

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Islamabad—After failing to qualify for Rio Olympics, Pakistan’s hopes of putting up a good at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup were dashed when the side only managed to win two out of the five games it played. In the last league match in Ipoh on Friday, Pakistan flattened Japan 4-1 to ensure qualification for the fifth playoff.
“We are happy to have picked up our second win and qualify for the play-off. It will be a tougher match but it will also help us gain more experience that this side needs,” Pakistan coach K.M. Junaid told the tournament website.
“Our main goal was to ensure that the playing structure the team is being built upon is strengthened,” he added. Japan, which is at the bottom of the barrel at seventh spot, hasn’t beaten Pakistan in any of the previous encounters.
Japanese players, though, did try to stage a comeback in the game’s dying moments, they couldn’t maximise on the goal-scoring opportunities. Pakistan started off their campaign with a 3-1 win over Canada, then marched on suffer back-to-back comprehensive defeats at the hands of New Zealand (5-3), Australia (4-0) and India (5-1).
Pakistan will face Canada for the fifth spot on Saturday (tomorrow). The Sultan Azlan Cup features India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and host Malaysia competing for the title.
Meanwhile, India cruised into the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup against world champions Australia by whipping Malaysia Friday, shattering New Zealand’s qualifying hopes.
The Indians created a host of goal scoring opportunities after attacking the home side from the start, resulting in a half-time score of 4-0 and leaving the hosts shell-shocked.
By the end India scored a 6-1 triumph over Malaysia and will play Australia on Saturday.
New Zealand, meanwhile, saw their chances for a repeat final encounter with arch rivals Australia blown away following India’s win.
The Black Sticks will now play Malaysia for the bronze medal. Last year, New Zealand pulled off a massive upset against Australia. After both teams were tied 2-2 in regulation time, the Black Sticks prevailed 3-1 in the shootout to win the title.—AFP

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