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Pakistan fail to defend 3-1 lead lose to South Africa in a penalty shootout in Junior Hockey World Cup

Harpal Singh Bedi

Bhubaneswar,2 December: Former champion Pakistan’s cup of woes was filled to the brim as they failed to defend 3-1 lead and lost to South Africa in a penalty shootout in the Junior Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium here Thursday.

In a 9th to 12 placing match, South Africa in a penalty shoot-out 4-1 after both, the teams were levelled  3-3 at the end of the regulation period . With this win, the Africans are guaranteed to at least match their best finish in this  World Cup. Their previous best came at the 2016 competition in Lucknow.

Pakistan opened up a 2-0 lead through Moin Shakeel and Abdul Shahid before Senzwesihle Ngubane reduced the margin just after halftime. Abdul Rehman restored a two-goal lead for the Green Shirts, but South Africa rallied with two goals in just over one minute as captain Guy Morgan rattled home a penalty corner before Idrees Abdulla finished off a glorious team move.

Abdulla’s strike took the match to a shoot-out that was dominated by the Africans, who scored all four of their attempts with Moin Shakeel and Abdul Rana both unable to find a way past shot-stopper Taine Bird.

“Shoot-outs are things that we’ve been working on”, said South Africa’s Player of the Match Senzwesihle Ngubane, who netted both in regular time and in the one-on-ones. “We trust our process. It’s all about executing and scoring. Playing as a team is the most important thing. It was a good game of hockey. Credit to Pakistan for giving us a good run.”

Pakistan captain Abdul Rana said: “We were in the lead at half-time and then I think we got a little overexcited. The same opportunities we had in the first half we did not manage to convert them in the second half. South Africa played really well and deserved to win. We need to work on our scoring abilities.”

In another 9th to 12th place match, South Korea beat Poland 3-2.

Two goals from Player of the Match Kim Hyunwoo helped Korea fight back from 2-1 down to claim a 3-2 victory against Poland, a result which sets up a meeting with South Africa in the 9th – 10th classification game.

A brilliant penalty corner deflection from Hong Jinyoung gave Korea an early lead before Poland’s Wojciech Rutkowski scored twice to put his team ahead. However, field goals on either side of halftime from Kim Hyunwoo – the first being a superb backhand strike from the top of the circle – proved to be enough for a Korean victory.

Canada proved too strong for North American neighbours USA in their 13th –16th play-off match, scoring four times without reply to seal their place in the play-off match for 13th position.

Canada’s penalty corner routines proved to be the difference between the two sides, with team captain Christopher Tardif, Alexander Bird and Flynn McCulloch all registering PCs before Bird claimed his second of the game from a penalty stoke eight minutes from full time.

Canada’s opponents in the 13th – 14th classification match on Saturday will be Chile, who battled to a narrow 1-0 win over Egypt in the second game of the day.

The only goal of the game came a minute into the fourth and final quarter, with Raimundo Valenzuela flicking high into the Egyptian goal from close-range, capitalising on a miss-hit strike from a Chilean team-mate. Egypt hit the post in the latter stages, but it was the Pan Americans who held on for the win to secure their place in the 13-14 play-off game.

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