India and Pakistan camps satisfied with result after exciting 2-2 draw in Belgium
Antwerp: The coach and captain of both the teams wore a relieved look and the result 2-2 seemed fair at the end of the India-Pakistan clash in the Fintro Hockey World League Semi-Finals yesterday. The Indians are still unbeaten, but will meet Australia on Sunday in the last League match. Pakistan still have to play France, but have lost to Australia. Ramandeep scored both goals for India (13 and 39 minutes) and Muhammed Imran scored both for Pakistan (28 and 37 minutes).
India's Jasjit Singh Kular (centre) and his teammate vie for the ball against Pakistani players during the Group A match of the World League semi-final in Brasschaat yesterday. Pic/AFP
If India had the better for exchanges for the first two quarters, the Pakistanis played extremely well in the third, but failed to take advantage of the numbers, when India had two men out at one stage. In the final quarter, both teams played their hearts out and created a whole lot of opportunities only to miss them.
The Indians had less to lose from the game because they have already qualified for Rio Olympics. But they would be happy with the result as they were down to nine men for a brief period in the third quarter and played almost the entire quarter with 10 players. "Against Poland too we conceded when we were down to 10. But today we did not let in more goals (India gave away one goal) at that stage, though Pakistan controlled the game at that time," said coach Paul Van Ass.
'Want Pak in Olympics'
Both coaches concurred the result was fair and there was a lot of bonhomie. Van Ass, who was in the middle of an India-Pakistan clash for the first time in his career, said, "We would very much like Pakistan to be there at the Olympics and it was a good game today."
Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh added, "It was a fair result and it was a good exhibition of sub-continental hockey. I am sure the fans of both teams went back happy." Asked about his team’s failure to take advantage of the fact that India were down to nine, he joked, "We didn’t want to score when they were nine or 10, but only when they were again 11." Pakistan did score once when India were down to 10 in the third quarter, which was their second goal, off a penalty corner. At a tournament that has not attracted a large audience, yesterday’s match had the biggest crowd with nearly 2,000-2,500 people.