Pool phase ends at Hockey World League Semi Finals in Malaysia
Abdul Haseem Khan scored a superb hat-trick as Pakistan defeated South Africa 2-6 to emerge as winners of Pool B courtesy of a superior goal difference over England, who defeated Malaysia earlier in the day.
The result completed the Pool phase of the competition, meaning that the quarter final fixtures are now known.
Pool A winners Argentina will play South Africa, who finished fourth in Pool B, while Pool B table-toppers Pakistan have set up a meeting with Korea, the fourth ranked team from Pool A. Pool B runners up England will face Japan, a team that finished third in Pool A while Pool A runners up Germany, the Olympic champions, face a mouth-watering meeting against host nation Malaysia, who finished Pool B in third place. The matches take place on Thursday, with exact timings available in the Schedule section of this website.
Full reports and video highlights from Pool B can be found below.
South Africa – Pakistan 2-6 (1-3)
Abdul Haseem Khan scored a superb hat-trick as Pakistan defeated South Africa 6-2 to emerge as winners of Pool B. Muhammad Zubair also grabbed a bracein the rout, with Shafqat Rasool also contributing to the scoring.
The first half of this hugely entertaining and fiercely contested match witnessed three goals, with the Asian side racing into a 3-1 lead before half time. Muhammad Zubair netted Pakistan’s first goal with a wonderful backhand shot into the top left corner of the South Africa goal before Shafqat Rasool pounced on a penalty corner save to slot home a second in the 17th minute.
The hard-running South Africans grabbed a goal back in the 25th minute when Wade Paton drag flicked a sensational penalty corner effort just inside the right post, but Pakistan hit back almost immediately thanks to Abdul Haseem Khan, who got a crucial touch on a low penalty corner flick from Muhammad Imran.
Pakistan continued their excellent form into the early stages of the second half, and were duly rewarded with a fourth goal in the 41st minute. Haseem Khan was again the scorer, this producing a clinical close range finish after being set up perfectly by Muhammad Waqas.
South Africa had various good chances of their own and could easily have had more notches on the scoreboard were it not for some top class goalkeeping from Pakistan’s Imran Butt, who made some wonderful saves to deny the African strikers.
Haseem Khan completed his hat-trick in the 60th minute with a neat deflection before Zubair claimed his second of the game with a stunning touch on a cross-shot from Pakistan superstar Shakeel Abbasi. South Africa reduced the deficit in the final minutes when Craig Haley touched home, but it failed to hide what was an emphatic victory for the Greenshirts.
England – Malaysia 2-1 (1-1)
A second half strike from Barry Middleton has put England firmly in the Pool B driving seat, earning them a 2-1 win over host nation Malaysia here in Johor Bahru. The teams went into half time with the score at 1-1, with Malaysia’s Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil cancelling out a Richard Smith goal before Middleton struck with 12 minutes of the match remaining.
The result guarantees a top two finish for England, although Pakistan have the chance to fight claim top spot when they play South Africa in the final match of the day.
A frenetic first half saw both sides determined to take the initiative, as a large and noisy crowd watched a superb contest that flowed from end to end and incredible speeds. Malaysia, fresh from their confidence boosting 6-3 victory over South Africa, looked confident and extremely dangerous going forward, giving the world number 4 ranked team a real run for their money in the early stages.
England were the first team to get their name on the score-sheet, with Richard Smith finding the goal from a 20th minute penalty corner. Smith’s initial flick at goal was brilliantly blocked by the Malaysian defence, but England’s number 29 got a second bite of the cherry and somehow found a way past the right foot of goalkeeper Kumar Subramiam.
Malaysia deservedly hit back seven minutes later through a penalty corner. England goalkeeper George Pinner made a solid block from Faizal Saari’s first attempt, but he could do absolutely nothing about the follow up shot from Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil, who clipped into the roof of the net with a reverse side volley.
England superstar Ashley Jackson had two good chances either side of half time to regain the advantage, but his penalty corner flick and a diving effort were both wide of the mark. At the other end, Malaysia’s inspirational attacker Faizal Saari went close to bagging a penalty corner of his own, but his low flick failed to test England’s Pinner.
The winning goal of the game arrived with 12 minutes of the match remaining. A goal-bound shot from England’s Adam Dixon ricocheted off a Malaysian defender and fell kindly to Barry Middleton, who made no mistake with a composed finish from close range.
Malaysia rallied hard towards the end of the match, much to the delight of their home fans. However, England held on for a victory which puts them in a very strong position in Pool B.Back