Japan upset Pakistan to lift Oman tri-series title
February 20, 2018 | 10:13 PM
by Sports Reporter
Members of victorious Japan team celebrate with the trophy after defeating Pakistan in the final of Oman Triangular Series hockey tournament at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday. Photo - SHABIN E/Times of Oman

Muscat: Showing early aggression and maintaining the momentum for the rest of the match, Japan upset fancied Pakistan to emerge the inaugural champions of the Oman Triangular Series hockey tournament at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday.

In a rather tense final, played in front of a large number of Omani and expatriate hockey enthusiasts, Japan struck early in the match before thwarting Pakistan threats with solid defence to win the match by a 3-2 margin.

Pakistan, at 13th the highest ranked team in the three-team competition, were certainly favourites going into the summit clash.

But it was 16th ranked Japan who dictated the pace from the word go and it took them just four minutes to open their account off a penalty corner expertly converted by Koji Yamasaki.

Stung by the early reverse, Muhammad Saqlain-coached Pakistan tried to regroup themselves.

However, they were dealt another blow by Dutchman Siegfried Aikman-coached Japanese in the 12th minute when Kazuma Murata scored a fine field goal.

But two minutes later, Pakistan managed to pull one back through Muhammad Arslan Qadir’s field goal. The score remained 2-1 in favour of Japan at the end of the first quarter.

With Pakistan pressing for the equaliser and Japan trying to increase their advantage, the proceedings became more intense though neither team succeeded in finding the target in the second and third quarters.

Five minutes into the final quarter, Japan further increased their lead thanks to a field goal by Hirotaka Wakuri.

Pakistan continued with their all-out attacking game and were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 56th minute which Ali Mubashar converted to reduce the margin.

However, the goal came too late for Pakistan as Japan went on to defend well for the rest of the match to emerge the champions.

Omantel CEO Talal bin Said Al Mamari presents the winners trophy to Japan captain Manabu Yamashita. Photo - SHABIN E/Times of Oman

Later Omantel CEO Talal bin Said Al Mamari presided over the prize-giving ceremony handed over the medals and trophies.

Speaking on the occasion, OHA chief Talib Al Wahaibi thanked the Embassy of Pakistan officials as well all the OHA partners and sponsors for the success of the tournament.

“I would like to thank the Embassy of Pakistan and the community of their support. I would also like to thank our partners and sponsors, including UTSC, Oasis and Pakistan International Airlines for the success of the tournament.”

The Oman Hockey Association (OHA) organised the three-team tournament to help the Sultanate’s squad in their preparations for the forthcoming Asian Games Hockey Qualifier to be hosted in Muscat from March 2 to 10.

In the tri-series, Oman’s best performance came in a round robin match against Pakistan which ended in a thrilling 4-4 draw.

The Omanis, who are being coached by former Pakistani stalwart Tahir Zaman, will now gather for a training camp on Saturday.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news