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Pakistan prepares to mar Australia party in hockey final tomorrow

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, Mar 25 (UNI) Australia will be eyeing their third successive Commonwealth Games gold when they take on Pakistan in the men's hockey final but the ''Green Shirts'' are uncowered by the reputations of their rivals and preparing to spoil the hosts' party.

The rejuvenated Pakistanis team will be eyeing a repeat of their win against the Olympic champion Aussie in the Rabo Bank tournament to end their medal drought.

The Green Shirts will take the field with renewed vigour after their morale-boosting 2-1 win against England in the semifinals.

The match was stretched to the extra time and Shakeel Abbasi scored the golden goal to see his side through to the final.

Beating Australia, especially when the Aussies are eyeing a milestone and that too on home turf, will be a herculean task for the Green Shirts but they will have nothing to lose when they go out there in the middle.

While the Aussies were dominant in all their matches before reaching the final, Pakistan dragged itself and somehow managed to grab a final berth.

They narrowly escaped a defeat before beating arch-rivals India in the opening match, drew with South Africa and toiled in the middle before scraping past Malaysia. The win against England in the semifinal was as much luck, as much their skill.

However, the Asian giants are aware that they have a golden opportunity to revive their hockey fortune and beating Australia at their den would bring back the same respect the 1984 Olympic champions once enjoyed.

Pakistan can also look back to recent past to derive some inspiration. They forced a draw with the Aussie in India in the elite six-nation Champions Trophy before beating them in the final of the Rabo Bank Trophy.

Pakistan chief coach Asif Bajwa admitted a win tomorrow can change the team's fortune besides ending the medal drought.

''The fact is for long, we are without a major title and in recent years we struggled to win a major title. Naturally there are lot of question marks and hope we begin as underdog tomorrow and then emerge winners.'' ''We are on the threshold of a history and we desperately need a win to revive the sagging interest back home,'' he added.

Captain Mohammad Saqlain said his side would go all out tomorrow.

''We are not under any kind of pressure. It's not as if we are playing them for the first time and our recent performance shows we are capable of beating them,'' he said.

UNI HSB AY KN1840

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