Ak Fauzi Pg Salleh
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HONG KONG completed a clean sweep in the group stage of the 3rd Women's Asian Hockey Challenge 2017 after beating Pakistan 2-0 today.
It wasn't Hong Kong’s best performance in the competition, having already secured their berth in the final, as they looked dull in most occasions and had to rely on their best player Tiffany Chan, who scored both goals, to scrap a win at the National Hockey Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
Despite the defeat, Pakistan look destined to meet Hong Kong again in the final on Saturday night holding a superior goal difference against the hosts Brunei before they square off tomorrow at 4pm.
The Pakistan side were determined from the start to get a positive result out of the match but Hong Kong stunned them with an early goal following a swift counter attack that set Chan with plenty of space to fire home near the box in the second minute.
Hong Kong defended their one goal lead throughout the frame while Pakistan were moving the ball well across the field looking for an opening to find the back of the net.
Chan was by far Hong Kong’s best player on the day with her clever play and dangerous run, causing Pakistan problems every time and it didn't take long for her to double the lead for Hong Kong scoring from a penalty corner four minutes into the second quarter - bringing her tally to 10 in four matches.
Hamra spearheaded Pakistan upfront and she was assisted by Hina Pervaiz and Kalsoom Shahzadi in the attack.
They linked up very well with their one-two passes but could not connect for the finish.
Ishrat Abas almost scored for Pakistan when she bolted a thunderous shot from 20 metres out for the bottom left corner but Hong Kong had their goalkeeper Yip Ting Wai to thank after she pulled off a vital save to help Hong Kong.
Chan and captan Lo I Ka could not find their way past Rizwana Yasmeen, who was brilliant in between the sticks for Pakistan today, denying every shot in the third quarter.
Pakistan also looked dangerous every time they moved forward with Mayira Sabeer and Ambreen Arshad combining well down Hong Kong’s left flank but again they just could not find enough space to shoot with their opponents closing down each time.
Hong Kong, who were playing back-to-back, looked tired by the fourth quarter as they sat deep to defend their two-goal cushion with Pakistan throwing their players forward in search of goals.
Hina and Hamra came closest to end Hong Kong’s run of cleansheets but to no avail.
Hong Kong captain Lo I Ka: “I’m pretty pleased with our performance (today). We set out to keep a cleansheet and score some goals. We performed to what we wanted to do.
“They (Pakistan) put up a performance. But we were out there to perfect a few things. This is just a warm up for the finals really, where you will see the best game.
“We will stick to what we know and what we are confident in. We are going to keep scoring goals.
“We are focused along the way. It doesn’t matter if we are playing or resting. We will make the right preparations for the final day.
“It is pretty good and is a great feeling (to keep four straight cleansheets). We know we can defend well and we can counter attack.”
Pakistan coach Muhammad Khan: “They (Hong Kong) have planned to play a very casual game. I know them and they are keeping themselves for the final.
“Our players did well as compared to the last one but we still could have done much more.
“Our girls are not playing their own game as I feel. Last year in November they were much better and we drew against them.
“I’m hopeful as they are improving because last match they were totally upset. Today they were moving. Next match in the final we will try to give them more tough time.
“It is a disadvantage (to play three straight days). On astro turf, two days play games and have one day rest is recommended.”