Ahead of the Hero Asia Cup, hosts Bangladesh had earmarked Pakistan as the side that they could give a run for their money to due to the opposition's poor form in recent times, but the reality of the situation turned out to be very different at the blue turf under the newly-installed floodlights of the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium last night as the hosts lost 7-0 against the former world champions.
A strong anticipation to do well against Pakistan was hyped up by Bangladesh's 1985 Asia Cup match in Dhaka, but the three-time World and Asia Cup champions proved that they are still a much superior side compared to Bangladesh, despite the fact that they came into this tournament having suffered two massive defeats against bitter rivals India in the Hockey World League three months ago.
However, Bangladesh captain Rasel Mahmud Jimmy believes it was a case of them gifting goals to Pakistan rather than the opposition playing superior hockey.
“We played good hockey in the first two quarters and conceded only one goal during that time, but since the beginning of the third quarter, we made too many mistakes and gifted them five goals,” Jimmy said. “There were messages relayed to all the players about holding ball possession and not to launch attacks down the middle and not to dribble against two players, but the players failed to follow the instructions right from the third quarter.”
Jimmy, the only outfield player for Bangladesh who shows glimpses of class, worked his way through the opposition to create a great opportunity in the second quarter, but was denied by the woodwork.
“If I got the leveller, the scenario might have changed because scoring against a big side can boost the morale of a team like ours,” said Jimmy.
“We have to take a lesson from this defeat and rectify the mistakes we made against Pakistan if we want to prove that we are a good team. There is no alternative to coming back in the next matches and I think we will play well in the next matches,” said Jimmy, whose side will play their second match, against India, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Jimmy's Pakistan counterpart Mohammad Irfan was very happy to get off to a blistering start against the home side.
“We have prepared well and tried to build up the game by holding ball possession. It was a really good start for us. I want to thank the new management and the boys who really gave a good effort for such a start,” said Irfan, who had previously played for Abahani in the Dhaka Premier League.
“We knew that we are a better ranked side than Bangladesh and are able to score more. We had a good game plan. They played well but we also missed three more chances. We are looking forward to keeping this momentum in the tournament,” said an ecstatic Irfan, who along with five senior players, were called back for the Asia Cup.