Japan edges Pakistan on penalties to lift Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024

IPOH: In a nerve-wracking 4-1 triumph in the penalty shootout, Japan narrowly beat Pakistan in the final of the 30th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2024 to win the trophy for the first time.

Pakistan and Japan, both unbeaten in the tournament, went hard at each other in the final with the latter taking the lead in the first quarter. Japan’s Seren Tanaka scored the first goal of the finale in the 12th minute.

Japan’s early lead persisted till the conclusion of the first quarter and the entirety of the second as well despite Pakistan’s several attempts for an equaliser.

The national team finally got the reward for their attacking approach, scoring two goals in three minutes. For Pakistan, Ajaz Ahmed struck in the 34th minute followed by Abdul Rahman who netted in the 37th minute.

Trailing 2-1 in the final quarter, Japan scripted a brilliant comeback as Kazumasa Matsumoto scored a equaliser just two minutes into the final quarter.

Both sides then made multiple efforts to score the tie-breaker but the scoreline remained intact at 2-2, forcing the enthralling final to be decided on the penalty shoot-out.

Japan displayed a dominating performance in the penalty shoot-out by converting all four penalties while Pakistan could score one, which came in the third attempt when Ammad Butt successfully put the the ball in the nets.

For the unversed, this was Pakistan’s first appearance in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final after a long 13-year hiatus.

The national men’s hockey team gave brilliant performances throughout the tournament defeating hosts Malaysia, South Korea and Canada while settling for a stalemate against New Zealand in the group stage.

Pakistan also locked horns with Japan in the round match and held the eventual champions for a 1-1 draw.

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