The Pakistan hockey team made an impressive comeback to register a 3-3 draw against the Netherlands in their opening match of the Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Green Shirts were down 2-0 in the first half but Arshad Liaqat, Sufian Khan, and Arbaz Ahmed scored crucial goals to bring Pakistan back in the game.
The Dutch team managed to secure field goals in the 21st and 30th minute, leaving Pakistan two down at the end of the first half.
However, Pakistan fought back valiantly in the third quarter, with midfielder Arshad Liaqat scoring a field goal, narrowing the deficit.
The turning point came in the 36th minute of the third quarter when Pakistan earned a penalty corner. Sufian Khan exhibited exceptional skills, slamming a drag-flick into the goalpost, leveling the score to 2-2.
The Netherlands responded with a field goal in the 47th minute, once again taking the lead. However, Pakistan’s Arbaz Ahmed swiftly equalized with a penalty corner, bringing the score to 3-3.
The Junior World Hockey Cup features 16 teams from around the world, including Pakistan in Pool D alongside the Netherlands, Belgium, and New Zealand.
Pakistan’s next match is against New Zealand tomorrow at 8:00am (Pakistan Standard Time).
Pakistan finished on the men’s Junior World Cup podium on each of the first five events played between 1979 and 1993, clinching gold at the inaugural event and claiming one silver and three bronze medals.
Since then, two fifth place finishes in 1997 and 2009 have been their best performance. The finished 11th at the Bhubaneswar 2021 World Cup, which was an historic low for Pakistan.
However, under the guidance of legendary Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans the team has turned a corner which was evident from the silver medal they secured at the Junior Asia Cup earlier this year.
A narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of India was their only defeat of the competition, with Abdul Rehman scoring nine times to finish joint top scorer and Hannan Shahid bagging the award for player of the tournament.
The team recently finished fourth at the Sultan of Johor Cup, with penalty corner specialist Arbaz Ahmad netting four times in the competition.