Hosts toy with Nepal
Bangladesh blew away an awful Nepal 24-0 in hockey of the 11th South Africa (SA) Games at the Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium yesterday to record their highest margin of victory in international hockey and kept alive their hopes of playing in the final.
In the other match of the day, also at the same venue, India thrashed perennial rivals Pakistan 5-1 to move one step closer to the final.
Bangladesh's previous biggest victory was against the same team at the Madras SAFF Games in 1995 when they had won 12-1. This is also the highest scoring match of this Games so far.
Bangladesh started the game in flying colours, getting on the scoresheet as early as the fifth minute thanks to defender Mamunur Rahman Chayan through a penalty corner. Chayan got eight more goals during the game, all coming from penalty corners.
Bangladesh, who had failed to convert any of the seven penalty corners they won against Pakistan, converted as many as ten in this game. Only one came from penalty stroke while the other thirteen came from open play.
Apart from Chayan's nine, Rasel Mahmud Jimmy bagged six, Sazzad John three, Zahidul Islam Rajon and Kamruzzaman Rana two each while Sheikh Mohammad Nannu and Pushkor Khisha Mimu got one each to their names.
It was a match more for the statisticians than reporters as the hosts continuously pounded the opposition defence with myriad attacks and were getting goals every other minute. Bangladesh led the first half 10-0 and anyone who would have thought they were going to sit back a bit, were proved very wrong as the hosts stepped up the charge and scored four more than they did in the first half.
However, Bangladesh will have to beat India in their last game to qualify for the gold deciding match. Coach Gerhard Peter Rach said he was happy with the performance even though he had asked his players to score one more than they did before the match.
"I am not only hopeful, but almost certain we will beat India and play in the final," said the German adding that he spent a sleepless night after their reverse against Pakistan the previous day.
The Himalayan kingdom of Nepal finished the competition with four defeats in four matches, having conceded a staggering 79 goals against the one precious goal they scored against Sri Lanka.
In the second match of the day, India outclassed archrivals Pakistan 5-1, thanks to a hattrick from Raghunath Singh and a brace from Dharmavir Singh, to keep their hundred per cent record in tact. Pakistan's consolation goal was scored by Wasif Siddique.
India started the game with a blitz catching the Pakistanis off guard scoring two goals within the first minute. Dharmavir showed some fine stick work to pounce on the napping Pakistani defence and gave his side a 2-0 lead.
However, as Pakistan were looking to assert some control over the game, India got ahead once again in the 13th minute, this time through a penalty corner which was earned by the scorer of the earlier goals Dharamvir. The penalty was converted by man-of-the-match Raghunath. Five minutes later, Raghunath got his second of the match and the fourth for his team through a penalty corner.
Pakistan strung some attacks and got their reward in the 29th minute with a penalty corner, converted by Wasif Siddique who had scored two goals against Bangladesh the previous day.
The second half followed the same pattern, with India playing better and creating more chances. India got their fifth as Raghunath bagged a well-deserved hattrick converting another penalty corner in the 57th minute of the game. The rest of the play was dominated by India with Pakistan keeper making some excellent saves to keep India away from scoring any more.
Pakistan play their last match against Sri Lanka while Bangladesh take on India tomorrow to decide who will play in the final.