After three consecutive defeats in Pool matches, Pakistan pulled a sensational upset against expected finalist The Netherlands. In semifinals, Pakistan will face archrival India, who defeated Belgium in quarters.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary General Rana Mujahid said though he was sad with Pakistan’s three straight defeats in the Champions Trophy but the win against Netherlands, a European team, had not only enhanced players’ confidence but raised hopes that the game of hockey was on the road to progress.
He said the boys in green had not played against a European team in last one and half year which was a huge gap and the win against the Netherlands has enhanced their confidence. Rana added that the players played for their country ignoring all negative thoughts for which they deserved a big applaud.
Former legendary Olympian and Chief Selector Islahuddin Siddiqui said the players were demoralized because of three back to back defeats but the win against Netherlands, which stood second in the last edition, was a moral boosting victory and it would help them in the semifinal.
“The present team was the best available talent in the country and I thank Almighty Allah for giving mental strength to the boys to bounce back in a spirited way at a right time,” he added.
“The credit goes to the boys who proved their love for the country and played as a team to beat their superior opponents”, the chief selector further said.
Olympian Samiullah Khan said nobody had expected green-shirts to suffer three straight defeats in the Champions Trophy. Particularly the defeat against England had saddened hockey fans at home.
“There was a huge challenge and task before them and to bounce back against a superior European team in the quarterfinal was a marvelous success of team work. The boys played against a European side after a long gap but still they demonstrated their skill and art in a match, which was played amid do and die situation. It was a great victory,” he said.
Samiullah added that the semifinal clash between archrivals Pakistan and India, who defeated Belgium 4-2 in quarters, would be a tooth and nail battle and the match could go either way.
“Both teams have come in the semifinals after beating The Netherlands while India has also defeated Belgium. A tough battle is expected. India may have an edge considering home advantage and also they defeated us in Asian Games final. However, since the green-shirts unexpectedly defeated The Netherlands, I hope they could do the same against India as well,” he added.
He further said that the green-shirts should keep being motivated and forget Asian Games defeat and also the defeats they conceded in Pool matches and go all in the match to beat India. Pakistan is ranked eleventh in international rankings while India is ranked ninth.