Dawn: Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Waqas were the heroes as Pakistan defeated a plucky Poland side 2-1 in their opening Hockey World League 2015 match on Saturday.
Pakistan, who need to finish in the top three of the Hockey World League semi-finals table to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, started the game at a typically frenetic pace and created several chances in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
Poland’s goalkeeper Maciej Pacanowski stood like a wall as Pakistan continued to attack in an opening blitz which appeared to be a well thought out strategy to open up the opponents.
Mohammad Imran’s Greenshirts finally broke through in the 4th minute as Irfan fired in a low shot off a penalty corner.
Going into the first half, the scoreline could have been worst for Pawel Bratkowski’s Poland side had it not been for some very athletic saves by his man in goal.
Poland found their defensive shape in the third and fourth quarters as Pakistan lost some of its intensity from the opening salvos. Shafqat Rasool and Mohammad Dilber came close to scoring but, once again, Pacanowski proved to be too good for them.
Bratkowski then scored against the run of play with a little over 9 minutes left to level proceedings. But just as it seemed Poland were going come out of this battle unhurt, Waqas tapped home a rebound from a penalty corner to put Pakistan in front again.
Imran’s team kept their nerve to earn three points from the tense match against a surprisingly resilient opponent.
“We created a lot of chances but we did not make the most out of them,” Imran said after the match.
“But we really needed these three points and to start off with a win is always good for the confidence.”
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