Hockey: India take on Pakistan for 5th-place playoff
Pakistan and India's chances of qualifying for a bronze-medal playoff fell flat after drawn encounters against South Korea and Malaysia.
New Delhi: The young brigade Hockey India sent for the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament will conclude its campaign on Sunday with another clash against the traditional rivals Pakistan - this time for the fifth position - after Danish Mujtaba's men won the earlier pool encounter 3-1.
On Saturday, Pakistan and India's chances of qualifying for a bronze-medal playoff fell flat after drawn encounters against South Korea and Malaysia, respectively. Both the matches ended in a 2-2 deadlock, with the Malaysia-India game ending under controversial circumstances. India were leading 2-1 until the last minute when the umpires, after awarding a penalty corner to Malaysia, consulted and changed their decision into a penalty stroke. Faisal Saari converted it into a goal to deny India a win and leave Michael Nobbs' boys seething.
As a result, India finished last at the end of the pool matches with four points, behind Pakistan who had five points to their credit. Korea, who also had four points but a better goal difference than Pakistan, will play New Zealand for the bronze medal, with the title to be decided between tournament's two unbeaten teams Australia and Malaysia.
India had sent 10 under-21 players to the tournament, with an eye on finding players for the Junior World Cup to be played in India later this year.
"We had some objectives in mind when we selected the team for the Azlan Shah Cup. Our main aim is to build a strong team for the Junior World Cup, and we can achieve that only by giving as much international exposure as possible to the junior players," India coach Nobbs had said before the tournament.