ANTWERP: Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games were hit hard after Great Britain handed them a 2-1 defeat in the quarter-final of the Hockey World League (HWL) in Antwerp, Belgium, on Wednesday.
Pakistan, who missed their first opportunity to qualify for the Olympics after losing the Asian Games final to India last year, needed to finish in the top three at the HWL to be guaranteed a spot in Rio. But their defeat has left them with a very slim chance of getting a ticket to Brazil.
Mohammad Imran’s Greenshirts started the crucial game in tentative fashion and were under the cosh straight away after conceding a goal in the 4th minute. Chris Griffith was the man who got Great Britain off the mark through a super finish after cutting in from the left.
Pakistan created some fine moves in response but their failure to finish in front of goal meant there was no immediate equaliser.
Alastair Brogdon then turned in a cross in the 9th minute to give GB a 2-0 lead and it wasn’t until the 48th minute that Pakistan pulled a goal back through Umer Bhutta. But it was too late by then to stage a comeback and the one time ‘kings of hockey’ now face the prospect of missing out on the Olympics after also failing to qualify for the World Cup for the time in the game’s history last year.
Pakistan will now play Ireland in the 5-8 place classification matches and with Australia and India already through to the Olympics, there maybe a possibility of them sneaking into contention after the conclusion of the Continental Championships later this year.
A 5th place finish would provide them the best possible chance of reaching Rio.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Imran said: “I think we put all of our efforts into it but we were unlucky we didn’t score with our chances, but we have other games and it is important that we try to finish fifth.”
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