INCHEON: Full-back Muhammad Imran and forwards Muhammad Rizwan Senior and Muhammad Umar Bhutta slammed hat-tricks as Pakistan got off to an emphatic start in the XVII Asian Games Hockey Tournament when they thrashed Sri Lanka 14-0 here on Saturday.
Defending Champion Pakistan, which needs to retain their Guangzhou Asian 2010 title to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, remained in commanding position with regular scoring in four quarters of the match at Seonak Hockey Stadium.
Imran blasted four goals by converting penalty corners while Rizwan Senior and Umar Bhutta, who showed the most spark among the forwards, shared six field goals.
Forward Muhammad Imran scored a brace while Muhammad Waqas and Muhammad Tousiq Junior scored one goal apiece to complete the tally.
Pakistan was leading 4-0 after first quarter and added five more goals in the second period to make it 9-0 at the 10-minute mid-break. Things started to improve for Sri Lanka as they conceded Pakistan five goals in the last 30 minutes.
Sri Lankan hockey team, which has featured in the Asian Games hockey after 30 years, looked hapless since the beginning as Pakistan gained a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes.
Swift Muhammad Waqas put Pakistan in front with a brilliant reverse sweep in the goal-post in the 52nd second of the first minute as Sri Lanka goalkeeper and Captain Thusith Darshana had not yet settled under the bars.
Sri Lanka’s Pakistan coach Nadeem Ahmed replaced captain Darshana with second goalie Kumara Hendendi after he conceded two easy goals. But he came back in the third quarter to make a couple of good saves.
Before Sri Lankans could recover from the shock, Muhammad Imran scooped in the first penalty corner at the top of cage in the second minute. However, then they recovered to hold Pakistan for ten minutes.
But Muhammad Irfan converted back to back short corners in 12 and 14th minutes to consolidate team’s position with 4-0 lead.
Pakistan showed more productivity in the second period as they added three goals within three minutes with Imran, Rizwan Senior and Umar Bhutta adding one each. Umar scored his second goal in 24th minute.
Compared to Pakistan’s 14 penalty corners, Sri Lanka could secure two in the fourth and last quarter. But Pakistani custodian Imran Butt thwarted those attempts.
Pakistan’s Chief Coach Shahnaz Shaikh was happy with the outcome of the first match, saying players would get better as the event progressed.
“We started brilliantly with two goals in the opening two minutes that put Sri Lankans under great deal of pressure” he told reporters in post match press conference.
“We scored seven goals through penalty corners and as many through field efforts. It was a good combined effort by the team”, former Olympian said. It was a positive sign, he added.
He dispelled the impression that Olympians Shakeel Abbasi and Abdul Haseem Khan did not score any goal.
“They played their part with passing and it was not possible that everyone will score in the match,” he said.
He admitted that good win against China in Sunday’s match would be very important because they played hard way with a great deal of dedication and devotion and got super-fitness.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Akhtar Rasool, Secretary Rana Mujahid, Chief Selector Islahuddin Siddiqui and a few dozens of Pakistanis residing in Seoul and Incheon also watched the match, cheered the team and waved Pakistani flags.
In the other matches of the day, Japan beat Bangladesh 8-0, Malaysia defeated Singapore 8-2 and China beat Oman 5-0 in the last game.