After a shocking 4-4 draw against minnows Oman on Saturday, Pakistan rebounded to beat Japan 2-1 in the three-nation hockey tournament at Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, according to the information released by the Pakistan Hockey Federation.
It was Pakistan’s first win over Japan in the last five matches, after two defeats and two draws and should serve as a morale booster for the final on Tuesday, especially after the Green Shirts had played a drawn game to Oman 4-4 in the earlier match of the event.
The first half was scoreless. Mubashar Ali broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when he converted a penalty corner. Within two minutes, Japan equalised through Kenta Tanaka, also of a penalty corner. Both sides fought hard to take the lead.
In the 48th minute, Pakistan again took the lead through their experienced striker Umar Bhutta and it remained 2-1 when the match ended.
Pakistan have completed their four matches of the double-league phase, earning eight points.
Japan (four points) and Oman (one point) will play the last match of the league on Monday.
Only a big win over Japan would enable hosts Oman to qualify for the final against Pakistan, as Japan have a goal difference of +1 while Oman’s goal difference is -6.