Hong Kong emerge Asian Challenge winners, Brunei bag bronze

|     Fadhil Yunus     |

HONG Kong emerged winners of the 3rd Women’s Asian Hockey Challenge after overcoming spirited Pakistan 4-0 in the final at the Hockey Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex, with the Brunei Darussalam national women’s hockey team bagging bronze.

Having played back-to-back matches against Hong Kong and Brunei, Pakistan came into the match without having enough rest compared to their opponents but stayed in the contest with the scores goalless in the first half.

Hong Kong won two penalty corners without the intended outcome while in the other end Pakistan got their break as a silky individual move from captain Ambreen Arshad drew a penalty corner.

However, Ishrat Abbas scooped her shot wide with the opportunity to get the goal they desperately craved disappearing in an instant.

Hong Kong were awarded another penalty corner in the 50th minute as Ching Nam Chan directed the ball towards goal to open the scoring after a fine assist from Tiffany Chan.

Winners Hong Kong (in red) in a group photo with silver medallists Pakistan (in green) and bronze medallists Brunei (yellow). – KHAIRIL HASSAN

Tiffany scored her 11th goal of an excellent tournament through a field goal before captain Ka I Lo added a third with a good drive from a penalty corner.

The unbeaten Hong Kong, who completed the tournament without conceding a single goal, struck again at the end as Melissa Law Ka Mun executed a firm strike into the bottom corner.

Hong Kong coach Arif Ali admitted that they had a slow start in the first half but recovered in the second to get the win.

“We were hoping to play our best game in the last day today. We started very slow in the first two quarters. At half-time, we regrouped again and we go back to basics and get the basic things right because there were too many simple turnovers in the first two quarters,” said Arif in a post-match interview.

“We managed to correct our mistakes and in the third quarter we started to build our game and then in the end of the third quarter we started to play the way we normally play. In the last quarter, we took our chances and we just kept going and we never stopped,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Arif’s opposite number Mohammad Khan highlighted that consecutive matches leading up to the final has brought his team to exhaustion.

“On fourth quarter, our team was totally tired and despite of all their efforts they couldn’t do anything. Our team was not lesser than anyone and they played their best,” said Khan.

Pakistan’s Mayira Sabir was voted the best player of the tournament while Tiffany Chan was named the top goal-scorer of the tournament. Brunei’s Fatimah scooped the best goalkeeper award.

Mayira said that she was caught by surprise and was not expecting that the judges nominated her name for the win and felt grateful of collecting the award.

Meanwhile, Tiffany credited the efforts of the whole team for contributing towards helping her to win the top goal-scorer award.

“This is not only my personal effort but also the effort of the whole team for building up every play and giving me the opportunity to score for the team. I’m really proud of that and we finish as champions and also getting the top goal scorer award,” said Tiffany.

The winner of the top goal scorer recipient also highlighted both the team and her individual targets setting her sights on the top prize.

“I think for our team before we came we set up an objective of winning the gold medal so we have achieved that. For myself, before I came I set myself a goal of being above other teams and doing my best in every single game no matter which opponent we are playing.

“I think the way we start off maybe a bit slow but then we progressed every single game. We trust each other and turns out we get the result as well.”

Tiffany has proven to be the main source of attack for her side with her goal-scoring capabilities in the campaign.

“I think there’s always room for improvement. Of course I’m happy scoring most of the goals for the team and also achieving what I want.”

Tiffany revealed that she had also set a target of 10 goals before the start of the tournament.

“When you’re the main player of the team, you have more responsibility and this is the motivation for me to improve,” she said.

Brunei’s goalkeeper Fatimah was not expecting of being awarded the best goalkeeper award especially when she nearly missed out on playing in the tournament due to other commitments.

“I was originally not expected to be involved in the tournament because of other commitments but I was given support by the coaches, friends and teammates,” said Fatimah who had represented the country since 2009.

Present to award the medals and the trophy to the winners was Haji Muhd Zamri bin Dato Paduka Haji Hamdani, Vice President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council.