PAKISTAN’S Moin Shakeel (L) and Mohammad Hammaduddin vie for the ball with Brendan Guraliuk of Canada during their seventh place match at the University of Birmingham Hockey & Squash Centre on Saturday.

Once again, Pakistan took on Canada in a seventh-place playoff at the Commonwealth Games. Just like four years ago in Australia, Pakistan came out as winners. This time thanks to a last-minute strike by Abdul Hanan Shahid that sealed a nerve-wracking 4-3 win on Saturday.

The match at the University of Birmingham hockey stadium was representative of how far Pakistan have fallen behind. Once the giants of world hockey, they have now become the also-rans in the sport. They’re still seventh in the Commonwealth nations.

Had it not been for Shahid’s goal, they would’ve finished even worse as Canada twice came back to level the match, first from 2-0 down and then from 3-2.

Having finished fourth in Pool ‘A’, Pakistan scored twice in the space of a minute to make it 2-0 by the 25th. First Rana Abdul Waheed’s spectacular shot found the net and Ghazanfar Ali added another field goal to put Siegfried’s Aikman’s men in control.

That lead, though, didn’t last long as Canada were on level terms by halftime. First Matt Sarmento converted a penalty corner in the 26th and Canada’s relentless pressure paid off when they were awarded a penalty stroke just before the half-time whistle and Keegan Pereira made no mistake.

Pakistan dominated possession in the third quarter but it didn’t reflect on the scoreboard until seven minutes into the fourth when captain Umar Bhutta buried a field attempt.

That set up a dramatic finale as Canada pushed for a leveller and found it with two minutes go when Sarmento converted his second penalty corner of the match. But Shahid broke their hearts when he gave Pakistan the decisive lead with just seconds left to play.


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