Already out of next year’s World Cup, Pakistan had something to cheer about as the three-time champions defeated hosts Malaysia 3-1 to win the bronze medal at the ninth Asia Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Sunday.
Pakistan, who needed to win the Asia Cup to qualify for next year’s World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands, dished out a spirited performance to prevail over the erring Malaysians.
Pakistan, who will miss the World Cup for the first time since the introduction of the event in 1971, scored through a brace from Abdul Haseem Khan (35th, 56th) and skipper Muhammad Imran (54th) to register the victory in the third-fourth place play-off match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium.
For Malaysia, Faizal Saari scored the lone goal in the 34th minute.
It was a chance for Malaysia to avenge their 1-4 defeat at the hands of the same opponents in the pool stages but they let the opportunity slip because of their own mistakes.
Played under heavy weather conditions, at least the first half, the bronze medal play-off match between Pakistan and hosts Malaysia was a keenly-contested battle.
Pakistan had a close shave in the opening minute of the match when Muhammad Razie Abd Rahim’s high flick from Malaysia’s first penalty corner hit the cross bar.
Minutes later veteran Shakeel Abbasi’s weak shot from close range was easily blocked by Malaysia goalkeeper Roslan Jamaluddin.
Thereafter, Pakistan earned three penalty corners but failed to convert a single one on a turf that had become heavy because of continuous downpour.
After failing to make use of their second penalty corner, Malaysia broke the deadlock in the 34th minute through Saari, who had to dive full length to connect to a Jivan Mohan’s pass past Pakistani goalkeeper Salman Akbar.