Sports & Games

Pakistan’s Paris Olympics Dreams Crushed by 3-2 Loss to New Zealand

Pakistan’s dream of playing in the 2024 Paris Olympics was shattered on Sunday, as they lost 3-2 to New Zealand in the third-place playoff of the FIH Qualifiers in Oman. The defeat meant that Pakistan missed out on the Olympics for the third time in a row, after failing to qualify for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Pakistan, who have won three Olympic gold medals in hockey, started the match on a positive note, as Abu Mahmood converted a penalty corner in the 18th minute to give them a 1-0 lead. However, New Zealand equalized six minutes later through Scott Boyde, who scored from a penalty stroke.

Pakistan regained their lead in the 28th minute, when captain Ammad Butt displayed some brilliant skills to juggle the ball on his stick and flick it past the goalkeeper. Ammad Butt was also named the man of the match for his performance.

The second half saw New Zealand put more pressure on Pakistan, and they were rewarded in the 52nd minute, when Inglis Hugo scored from a field goal to make it 2-2. Pakistan tried to defend their goal, but New Zealand broke their resistance in the 58th minute, when Sam Lane scored the winner from a penalty corner.

New Zealand celebrated their qualification for the Paris Olympics, where they will join Great Britain and Germany, who had already booked their tickets by reaching the final of the FIH Qualifiers. Germany beat Great Britain 3-1 in the final to clinch the title.

Pakistan, on the other hand, were left heartbroken and in tears, as they failed to achieve their target of reaching the Olympics. Pakistan had a mixed campaign in the FIH Qualifiers, as they lost 6-1 to Great Britain, drew 3-3 with Malaysia, beat China 2-0, and lost 4-0 to Germany in the semi-final.

Pakistan finished second in Pool A with four points, behind Great Britain who had nine points. China and Malaysia were third and fourth with three and one point respectively.

The FIH Qualifiers were the last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the Paris Olympics, as they had not participated in the FIH Pro League, which was another avenue for qualification. Pakistan had also skipped the Asian Games in 2018, where they could have secured a direct berth by winning the gold medal.

Pakistan’s hockey team has been struggling for the past few years, due to lack of funds, facilities, coaching, and exposure. The team has also been marred by internal disputes, administrative issues, and poor governance.

Pakistan’s former hockey players and legends have expressed their disappointment and anger over the team’s failure to qualify for the Olympics, and have called for an overhaul of the system and the management. They have also urged the government and the Pakistan Olympic Association to support the team and revive the sport in the country.

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