One of the successes of the Olympic Games held this year is the venues that have been created to showcase the different events on offer to the general public to watch. That certainly applies to the Riverbank Arena. It may be a temporary arrangement but surely if Great Britain goes on win the Hockey gold medal, moves could be made to make it a permanent structure.
The matches so far, even when played between the least fancied teams aiming to take gold home with them at the end of the games has produced great crowds for both the men’s and women’s events. The further that Great Britain’s men and women progress, the more that the tension and sense of occasion will also build.
The occasion doesn’t get much bigger that between two of the teams to dominate in different eras of the men’s games. Britain, except for a huge morale boosting tournament against the Germans in 1988 had their most successful time either side of World War One whereas the Pakistan team were at the height of their powers between 1960 and 1968 when they won two Olympic finals and also went on to win their third in Los Angeles in 1984.
Pakistan may be higher ranked at the moment but you wouldn’t have guessed that as the men from Great Britain slowly but surely took Pakistan apart bit by bit.
The home team didn’t have long to wait before giving the crowd something to cheer as within four minutes of the match starting Great Britain took the lead with a marvellous goal by Tindall and despite moments of pressure from a beleaguered looking Pakistan team, they never looked like relinquishing.
With Australia dropping vital points against Argentina, this was as good a chance as any for the British men to catch up and put down a marker for one of the two semi-final places up for grabs from their group. If Britain had taken every chance offered them then the result could have been one of the most embarrassing in the history of Olympic Hockey, well if Great Britain didn’t want to humiliate the Pakistani team then they did a good job of helping their fellow sportsmen off the hook.
This was not the late show of capitulation that the men did against the South Africans in the previous game and with man of the match Ashley Jackson running the show from start to finish.
Pakistan got a consolation goal just before the final whistle; however it was a case of too little too late. Great Britain played well and deserved their victory and put them level with Australia at the top of the group on seven points apiece.
In the end, the game was won by determination and guile. The twelve shots that Britain had should not be overlooked as a deciding factor in how both teams seemed to go out to win this game. As in most sports, the more chances you have, the more you should convert and if you cannot even do that do you deserve a place in the final four.
Great Britain: Kirkham, Jackson, Martin, Daly, Clarke, Moore, Hawes, Wilson, Middleton, Tindall, Mackay, Lewers, Fair, Catlin, Fox, Smith.
Manager: Andy Halliday.
Pakistan: Shah, Irfan, Rizwan, Ahmed, Mehmood, Waqas, Bhutta, Khan, Abbasi, Tousiq, Rasool, Butt, Ahmed, Imran.
Manager: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry.
Umpires: Simon Taylor, Marcelo Servetto.
Final Score: Great Britain 4-1 Pakistan
Player of the match: Jackson (Great Britain)
Goals: Tindall, Jackson (2), Clarke (Great Britain), Abbas (Pakistan)
Australia 2-2 Argentina
Netherlands 5-1 New Zealand
Germany 5-2 India
Ian D. Hall