Pakistan’s junior hockey team were crowned champions of the Australian U-18 Hockey Championship after they defeated New South Wales State (NSWS) 3-2 in the final on Saturday.
The Greenshirts came into the match under pressure as NSWS were one of the sides who beat them during the pool matches of the tournament and therefore were a bit cautious with their approach at the start
The Colts, however, went 1-0 up courtesy a clinical finish from Naveed Alam following a remarkable team-play at the 13th minute mark. NSWS replied with some shots on target but to no avail.
The lead was doubled in the 24th minute after Pakistan increased the pressure on their Australian opponenets.
The half-time break did not affect Pakistan’s rhythm and the Colts made it 3-0 at the 44th minute just before NSWS’s Ehran Hazell hit back at the 48th minute to cut down the visitors’ advantage through a penalty corner.
Hazell’s strike took Pakistan back to their defensive shell which allowed the hosts to see more of the ball and possession was eventually capitalised at the 65th minute courtesy Daine Richards.
Pakistan, however, were able to protect their one goal lead for the remainder of the encounter as they went on to clinch gold.
“This is a great achievement and a bonus for us. We came here to gain experience and now the boys have also won the championship,” head coach Kamran Ashraf told The Express Tribune from Hobart.
“NSWS had a lot of international junior players and to beat them is a great achievement. In the last match we lost to this team but the fact that we were able to defeat them shows that the boys have learnt their lesson well.”
“The energy in the boys is immeasurable; the way they played throughout the championship is remarkable. This attitude will take these players to great heights and one day they will be representing the Pakistan national team,” he added.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Sr also was full of praise for the young Colts.
“Our main motive was to provide international exposure to the players who have been included for the first time in the team. But the way they played is incredible,” he said.