New Delhi, March 5 : With their hopes of a semi-final place receding fast, Pakistan need to force a big win as they take on the weakest Pool B side South Africa in the Hockey World Cup here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium Saturday.
Like their sub-continental cousins India, Pakistan first have to win both their remaining games to keep alive their chances, which would also depend on the results of other games in the pool.
Having conceded 22 goals without earning a single point in their three games, South Africa have turned out to be the favourite whipping boys in the tournament and provide a good opportunity to Pakistan to find their bearings after the 2-5 defeat against England in an exciting but ill-tempered game Thursday.
England now top the pool with nine points, having won all their matches, followed by while Australia and Spain with six each. Pakistan, like India, are on three points but the hosts occupy the fourth slot on better goal difference.
For Pakistan, the road ahead would be anything but smooth, as what looks like a relatively easy game against the African team would be followed by the match against strong title contenders, Australia, who have been on a song after the shock defeat by England in the opener.
For Pakistan, forward Shakeel Abbasi has sparkled in the Cup, and would have to take an extra load on the morrow to ensure an emphatic victory for the four-time winners. They lost to India 1-4 in the opener before getting past Spain 2-1, and then went down to the in-form England.
With veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas a pale shadow of his old self, Pakistan have not quite delivered from set pieces, and this would be a major worrying factor for the team management.
Experienced striker Rehan Butt is another player who has done well only in patches, making the Pakistan attack line look less sharp.
Australia and Spain would meet in another big Pool B match Saturday.
After the World Cup record 12-0 win against South Africa, Australia would be looking to retain the momentum against the world number three Spain, who have almost shut the door on India's entry into the last four with a fluent 5-2 win.(IANS)
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