|December 6th, 2009|
|01||Pool B||12:00pm||PAK - CAN||2 - 1 (2 - 0)||Final|
The 2009 Champions Challenge opened under stormy skies in a venue diligently prepared by the Salta Hockey Association. Pakistan and Canada were first in action, with Pakistan immediately threatening and earning a free hit just outside the circle to create danger in front of Dave CARTER in the Canadian goal. A few minutes later, Rehan BUTT penetrated the Canadian circle but was prevented to shoot on goal by Scott SANDISON, coolly clearing the ball in both occasions.
Pakistan maintained the pressure, well absorbed by a patient Canadian defense. Then Canada took advantage of a green card to Rehan BUTT to mount their first dangerous attack; Connor GRIMES received the ball in front of Salman AKBAR in the Pakistani goal but was prevented to unleash his shot. The first penalty-corner was for Pakistan in the 14th minute and Sohail ABBAS did not miss the chance to open the score, with a little bit of luck, his weak low shot being deflected in goal by a defender.
Pakistan continued to control the play, but were wasting opportunities and losing balls on unforced errors, giving time to the Canadians to organize their game and mount a few dangerous attacks of their own. The danger shifted side after a yellow card to Canadian captain Ken PEREIRA and Pakistan earned another penalty-corner, dutifully converted by Sohail ABBAS, this time with a high flick that shaved the crossbar.
Canada immediately reacted and earned a penalty-corner of their own, but Wayne FERNANDES was less efficient and his flick was deflected high by a defender, so half-time was reached with a two-goal advantage for Pakistan. The Canadian started the second period in better offensive dispositions and pushed back Pakistan in their defensive zone. They earned a penalty corner but Scott TUPPER’s high flick was brilliantly saved by Salman AKBAR.
Canada had the upper hand for a while, but could not score. They were finally rewarded when Wayne FERNANDES scored on a penalty-corner, after some confusion when the Pakistani goal-keeper received a green card for breaking too early. Canada kept pushing, and unsettled the Pakistani defense with swift runs by Gabbar SINGH and Ken PEREIRA. Pakistan had a series of penalty-corners in the final minutes, but the Canadian defense had now broken the code and defended them successfully.
Pakistan won this first game, once again benefiting from Abbas’ lethal drag flick on penalty-corner, but they were certainly not impressive and struggled when Canada managed to lift the tempo of play. Umar BUTTA earned his first International Cap in this game.