Pakistan hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup were shattered by a lively Korean side, whose 2-1 win in the semi-final of the Asia Cup meant that the Greenshirts will not be part of hockey’s most prestigious event for the first time in the game’s history.
Pakistan, the most successful team in hockey with four World Cup titles (1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994) needed to win the Asian event to claim the sole qualifying ticket from this tournament.
The loss means India have virtually qualified for the 2014 World Cup and Malaysia have confirmed their ticket to The Hauge, Holland, where the tournament will be played.
“This is indeed bad news for Pakistan hockey as we are out of the World Cup. Before coming here, we knew this was our final chance of making it to the World Cup … unfortunately we lost (to South Korea),” coach Tahir Zaman said while talking to Sports247.
“We have to live with the reality now and we will have to make a long-term plan for Pakistan hockey,” he added.
The Greenshirts, who had run over Japan, hosts Malaysia and Chinese Taipei in the run up to the semi-final, had only themselves to blame for their loss after squandering several opportunities in front of goal.
The first came as early as the third minute when they earned a penalty corner. Captain Muhammad Imran, however, could not make it count. It set both players in motion, though, and the Koreans were the first to strike in the 31st minute through Jong Hyun’s penalty corner.
Another missed penalty corner by Pakistan meant that Korea went into half-time 1-0 up and with a lot of confidence.
They started in the same vein in the second half and doubled their lead in the 40th minute when Lee Nam Yong tapped home a saved penalty corner.
Pakistan pulled a goal back six minutes later from their third penalty corner of the game, Imran finally coming good with his effort.
Pakistan found a burst of energy and attacked in waves, but once again missed the target. With time running out, they replaced their goalkeeper with a kicking back but to no avail.
“It is sad Pakistan couldn’t make it to the World Cup, but I would like to congratulate Malaysia and India who are virtually through to the competition,” said South Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo.
“Our aim now is to win create history by winning the Asia Cup the fourth time.”