Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 – Day 5 Round-Up

Shayan Ehtesham, Sandeep Nakai

Muscat, October 22: Malaysia had to work hard for their third successive victory in the Hero Asian Champions Trophy at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex here on Monday, overcoming South Korea 4-2 to secure a place in the semi-finals.

Asian Games silver medallists Malaysia will take on defending champions India in their league encounter tomorrow. This will be the first meeting between Malaysia and India since their semi-final clash in the Jakarta Asian Games, where Malaysia posted a shock win to advance to the final.

Malaysia are now level on nine points with India from three matches each at the top of the standings.

Two-time champions Pakistan also put one foot into the semi-finals as they rode on a hat-trick from penalty corner shooter Aleem Bilal to outplay Oman 8-1 for their second win in three outings.

Bilal scored a goal each in the initial three quarters to become only the second player to score a treble in a match during the ongoing tournament. Bilal fired the first two goals for Pakistan in the 13th and 18th minutes with stinging penalty corner flicks and then returned to complete his hat-trick in the 39the by sending a drag-flick into the net.

In between, Bilal played an assist role in another penalty corner conversion as he squared the ball to Muhammad Irfan, who sounded the boards with a firm shot.

With six points and an imposing goal-difference in their favor, Pakistan can only be denied a place in the knock-out semi-finals if they falter to big losses in the remaining preliminary round fixtures against Japan and Malaysia, the two teams that featured in the final of the Asian Games at Jakarta in September.

Before Pakistan’s goal rush, Oman played a competitive first quarter, conceding the lead only in the 13th minute on Bilal’s rasping drag-flick into the net.

Bilal was again on target for Pakistan’s second goal five minutes later with a low shot that sounded the boards by beating the outstretched hand of custodian Fahad Al Noufali.

Muhammad Irfan Jr. deflected in a long diagonal ball from left in the 22nd minute and Ammad Butt scored in penalty corner action in the 26th to give Pakistan a 4-0 lead at half-time.

Pakistan continued to make the penalty corners count as Bilal squared the ball to his left for Muhammad Irfan to score the fifth goal in the 34th minute. Two minutes later, Bilal duly completed his hat-trick.

Abu Mahmood capitalised on a rebound from the goalkeeper in goalmouth scrimmage in the 27th minute and Muhammad Atiq rounded off the scoring with a field goal in the 52nd.

Despite the big loss, Oman had their moments in the match and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. They salvaged a consolation goal when Mohammed Al Lawati scored in the last minute of play.

Malaysia today took the lead through Firhan Ashari in the 11th minute, but the Koreans shot back to surge 2-1 ahead with goals from Yang Ji-Hun (15th minute) and Jang Jong-Hyun (20th).

Shahril Saabah brought Malaysia level in the 22nd minute, but the issue was decided through goals from Tengku Tajuddin (35th) and Faizal Saari (57th). Saabah was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the left post in the 53rd minutes.
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