Pakistan on Monday made the cut for next year’s Junior Hockey World Cup by reaching the semifinals of the Junior Asia Cup following a 14-0 triumph over minnows Sri Lanka in a group match in the Malaysian city of Malacca.
The Pakistanis ran roughshod over their rivals in what was yet another Junior Asia Cup mismatch with captain Umer Bhutta and Muhammad Tauseeq scoring hat-tricks with an enviable ease.
It was the first time in the tournament that Pakistan were at their brilliant best after an unconvincing 1-0 win against China and a 2-2 draw against defending champions India.The result has helped Pakistan achieve their first major target which was to qualify for the last-four in order to earn a direct place at the 2013 Junior World Cup to be held in the Indian city of Bangalore.
The star of the day for Pakistan was Tauseeq, their prolific striker who scored four goals in the match. Bhutta chipped in with three. Muhammad Dibar and Irfan Jr, who were the two goal-scorers in the crunch game against India on Sunday also hit a brace each along with Muhammad Suleman while Mohammad Jaffer scored one goal.
“Our boys were really good today,” said Rana Mujahid, the head coach of Pakistan Juniors. “They are playing like a well-oiled unit and we are confident that they will keep on improving and will give their best in the semifinals,” added the former Olympian.
The result helped Pakistan finish on pole position in Group B, ahead of arch-rivals India because of a better goal difference. They now face super-fit South Korea in the semifinals to be played on May 10. India, who conquered China 2-1 in a hard-fought encounter, also qualified for the last-four stage and now face hosts Malaysia for a place in the final.