First of all, my verdict: I genuinely believe that when a match comes down to penalties, be it in football, hockey or any other game, both teams should be named champions. A penalty shootout is a lot about luck and is essentially the skill of one player deciding the whole team’s fate.
I’m not saying this just because I happened to be a Pakistani and I don’t want to give credit to the Indian team. Actually the final played in Ordos, China measured up to everyone’s expectations. Both teams played exceptionally well, so much so that even the extra time could not get us a result.
It was an epic but goal-less battle till the penalty shoot out. Finally the game was decided on a penalty shoot out with India winning 4-2.
Pakistan was more dominant throughout the game as they were the more attacking side, but the Indian defense thwarted every single attack. Shakeel Abassi stood out in the Pakistani attack making some good runs and V. Raghunath on the Indian side with his tackling and clearances.
India also managed some good counter attacks but could not penetrate the Pakistani defense. As is commonplace in high voltage matches like these, there were a few skirmishes between players but none that got really out of hand.
Khwaja Junaid, Pakistan’s manager was clearly saddened as he thought that Pakistan deserved to win after the show they put on during the match, keeping the Indians under pressure.
“There was a clear factor of misfortune,” Khawaja Junaid told a newspaper. “We deserved to win because we kept India under pressure throughout the match”
He was however appreciative of the Pakistani team after the team’s run to the final. He said, “The final can be anybody’s game and our loss is not a matter of concern. Reaching the final with this young team is itself a big achievement and we are focusing on the positives since we have found various team combinations.”
It however, looked like the Pakistani team was missing their penalty corner specialist, Sohail Abbas, as they could not to convert a single penalty-corner out of the eight that they got compared to just one that India managed to earn.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation was also all praise for the team.
The Associate Secretary of the PHF, Rana Mujahid was quoted saying “Losing on shootouts is not alarming. “The PHF is satisfied with the overall performance of this young team for which the selection committee was heavily criticized.”
My personal sentiments were however, voiced by Khwaja Junaid when he said that “We were unlucky. We deserved to win because we kept India under pressure throughout the match. But reaching the final is itself a big achievement.”