Four-time champions Pakistan played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Malaysia in a Pool D match as both the teams remained in the hunt for a knock-out round berth in the Odisha World Cup.
Faizal Saari turned savior for Malaysia as he scored the last penalty corner of the match to force a 1-1 draw with Pakistan in their second Group D match of the Odisha World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium.
The result kept both teams in the hunt for a second-round place. But the result of the final match will decide their fate. Malaysia, who had lost 0-7 to Holland, is in the tougher position compared to Pakistan who only lost 0-1 to Germany.
Malaysia had a total of eight penalty corners in the match but could not find the net in seven of the attempts.
Faizal said that at least five of their attempts was stopped by the Pakistanis.
“They have learned our offensive strategy for the corners. So, it was tougher trying to get around it. Similarly, we also have learned of their tactics and was able to stop their attempts.
“Of course, I am a little disappointed with the result as we were looking for a win. But still, we will take the draw as it keeps us in the hunt. We will go all out to get a result against Germany next,” he said.
Malaysia can take heart that they played a well thought out game with few mistakes. It was a match both teams needed to win to stay in the hunt for a second-round place.
Both teams went into the game having lost their opening ties. Malaysia was beaten 0-7 by Holland while the Pakistanis lost 1-0 to Germany.
It turned out to be an exciting first half with both sides going at each other with zest.
The Malaysians started off with two penalty corners in the third and fourth minutes but both attempts failed. And a quick counter-attack by the Pakistanis saw them gaining two penalty corners as well. The Malaysians were equal to the task.
Overall the play in the first half centered around the midfield but the Malaysians had the better of the exchanges. There two goalmouth melees in the Pakistani half but some timely clearance by the Pakistani defenders kept the goal away.
Malaysia had a total of five penalty corners compared to Pakistanis three while the Malaysians had 10 circle penetrations to Pakistan’s four in the first half
Malaysia again dominated the play in the third quarter and had another penalty corner. They failed to execute it properly.
In the fourth quarter the Malaysians still had control of the play but a defensive lapse in the 51st minute.
A long ball into the D was collected by 19-year-old Mohamed Atiq, who after beating a defender slammed the ball past goalkeeper S. Kumar for the lead for Pakistan.
In the 55th minute, the Malaysians earned their eighth penalty corner and this time Faizal Saari made it count to equalise for his team.