In what was their last match of the last edition of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, Pakistan and Belgium made it a memorable spectacle in the 5th/6th play off.
After taking the lead, Pakistan fell behind 1-2 early in the second half.
The match seemed to be going in Belgium’s way but in the last four minutes, Pakistan laid siege to the opponent’s goal. They had replaced the goal keeper with an outfield player.
First Abu Bakr shot out and then Ali Shan, the star of the day, tested the goal keeper.
In the last minute, a penalty corner came Pakistan’s way. It wasnt trapped at the top of the circle but the ball was brought back into the circle and Tauseeq’s push went between goal keeper’s pads to give Pakistan a well deserved equaliser in the very last minute.
The match entered the dreaded shoot out. Both the goal keepers, Imran Butt and Loic van Doren, exhibited great skills. Off the first four, the two teams could avail only one each. In the last round,
Belgium’s Arthur de Sloover was successful but Shafqat Rasool couldn’t get past van Doren.
Pakistan had come out storming and had as many as three open play chances and one penalty corner in the first five minutes. Belgium survived the initial storm. Next 10 minutes saw no threatening attempt on either goal.
In the 16th minute, Ali Shan with a mazy run on the left flank entered the circle along the goal line, ran into the space in front of the goal before hitting the tin with a rasping shot.
Belgium earnestly searched for the equaliser which arrived just three minutes before the first hooter. A poor Pakistani give away within their 23 metres resulted in a quick attack. Belgian attempt on the goal hit M.Irfan Sr’s body. A penalty stroke was rightly awarded. Belgium’s star player Tom Boon, confidently Imran Butt the wrong way to make it 1-1.
Just four minutes into the second half, Aleem Bilal’s’ attempt on Pakistan’s second PC was well saved by the custodian. On the counter attack, an unimpressive Belgian attempt was easily stopped by Imran Butt. But his weak clearance reached an opponent in the circle and Belgium managed their second goal through Forent van Aubel.
Both the sides had their moments over the next 25 minutes but the scoreline remained 2-1 in favour of Red Lions.
Then arrived the last five minutes which saw Pakistan play havoc with the Belgian defence an eventually leveling the match.
It was a very evenly contested match. Draw in the regular time was a just result though Pakistan were slightly ahead of the 3rd ranked Belgium in the statistics: circle entries, shots on target and penalty corners.
But luck deserted them in the shoot out.
Despite finishing last, Pakistan should leave Breda with their heads held high. The 13th ranked side faced five sides ranked among world’s top six. Green Shirts defeated Argentina, (no 2 and Olympic Champions) 4-1. Lost to Australia (no1 and World Champions) by a solitary goal conceded in last minutes. Lost to Belgium (World No 3) in a shoot out. Though, they lost to India 0-4 but they led them in circle entries and shots on target. In fact, Pakistan were outplayed in only one of the six matches here, against Holland.
Pakistan: Ali Shan (16′) and Tauseeq Arshad (60′)
Belgium: Tom Boom (27′ off PS) & Florent van Aubel (34′)