Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Hong Kong made it two wins out of two at the 3rd Women's Asian Hockey Challenge 2017 following a 3-0 victory over Pakistan today.
Coming off a big win against Brunei, Hong Kong approached the game with a high level of confidence and got ahead as early as the eighth minute through Tiffany Chan converting from a penalty corner.
Chan almost doubled Hong Kong's lead when she was set through inside the semi circle area but Pakistan's goalkeeper Yasmin Reezwana put up a brilliant save, blocking the shot with her shin.
Pakistan defended well early in the encounter with their strong midfield duo of Hina Pervaiz and Ibra Sheikh keeping Hong Kong's playmaker Evelyn Cheung quiet throughout the first quarter at the National Hockey Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
The second period saw Hong Kong pressing up high early and they almost scored in the opening minute when Mok Ka Man was set free at the far post but her shot went just wide.
Hong Kong eventually doubled their lead just a minute later when captain Lo I Ka fired a powerful shot from the penalty corner.
The Hong Kong side have been deadly from penalty corner with five goals coming from the spot so far - three coming from their 8-0 win over the hosts in the opener on Sunday.
Hina combined well with Saira Ashraf down the left flank causing problems for their opponents but they just could not find a way past Hong Kong’s disciplined steel backline.
Another penalty corner for Hong Kong just a minute later almost resulted in another goal but Pakistan defenders quickly came off their line to mount pressure to forced a hurried shot.
Hong Kong slowed down after halftime focusing more on keeping possession than committing forward.
In contrast, Pakistan were moving around much better with their organised run and passes, but couldn’t mount any real threat.
Hong Kong found their third goal in the 42nd minute when Chan Yi Man reacted fastest to the rebound to slam the ball home from close range.
Hina tried to inspire a comeback for Pakistan in the final quarter when she made a strong run into the Hong Kong penalty area.
However, her shot was the closest to put her country on the scoresheet but was timely intercepted by a Hong Kong defender.
Pakistan won their first penalty corner just minutes before the final buzzer but Kausar Taskeen’s effort from the spot got deflected away by a Hong Kong defender to ensure her side keep their second cleansheet of the competition.
The tournament continues tomorrow with Brunei taking on Pakistan at the same venue at 4pm.
Hong Kong coach Arif Ali: “I think the first two quarters we were going at them a lot because we wanted to take the lead and take our chances.
“We created a lot of chances but their goalie played very well. When we attacked a lot and don’t get too much outcome then it gives a bit of confidence for the other team to come at us. We were aware of them and we were prepared to defend and I’m glad we didn’t concede any goals today.
“Our main objective was to have a cleansheet and not concede any goals. We achieved that and showed that we are capable of doing that every game. We need consistency now. That is something we are working on for the next few games.
“I was confident coming into this tournament with our penalty corners. We still haven’t shown much yet. We will have to do the right options at the right time. At the moment, we want to keep it simple.
“I know my team very well. These two games were not our best performances. We talked about it and expected that. We want to keep progressing and be playing our best on the last day."
Pakistan coach Muhammad Khan: “Our team was tired because we came from Pakistan the day before yesterday and they were not settled as we had a 16 1/2 hours flight.
“Secondly, is we are still trying to adjust to the weather and atmosphere. The weather is different here and they need to try to accommodate to it.
“But I hope for the next round of matches they will settle down.
“They showed their game in glimpses but as far as my coaching is concerned, that shouldn’t be. There should have at least had consistency.
“But our goalkeeper played well and was excellent. However, our captain, vice-captain and other 2-3 players which we thought will play better were off. I wish that they settle down immediately to compete better."