Pakistan came out of their grooves to held 4-4 draw against world number three Netherlands in their first match of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers on Saturday.
Starting their campaign on an aggressive note, Pakistan got the first breakthrough in the 5th minute with Mubashir Ali making the most of a penalty corner. The lead put Pakistan on the front foot in front of a jam-packed crowd in Amsterdam.
In the 20th minute, Van der Weerden scored a goal and equalized the score giving some hope to their fans cheering them. Just after a minute, Bjorn Kellerman netted the ball to take the hosts on top. Back-to-back goals created immense pressure on Pakistan.
The first half of the match remained 2-2 draw after Ali Ghazanfar scored an equalizer in the 25th minute.
Another half of the match proved out to be a classic one as both teams displayed quality show. Pakistan’s skipper Mohammad Rizwan scored a goal on penalty corner in the 38th minute to make the score 3-2.
Robbert Kemperman, in the 52nd minute, scored the third for the Netherlands followed Mubashir Ali’s second of the match which put Pakistan in lead once again.
The last-minute changed the course of the match as Van der Weerden scored his second and saved his team from the defeat at the hands of 17th ranked Pakistan.
“It was a tough contest but the way our boys played is extremely praisable. They showed a real fight against one of the top teams in the world. Somewhere we missed chances but it is not over yet and we will try to come back strongly in our next game,” the captain of Pakistan said.
It is pertinent to mention here that both teams will meet in the second contest on Sunday [October 27]. This match will be a last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.