Pakistan has suffered a huge blow on the eve of their Pool D clash against the Netherlands on Sunday. As per an FIH update, Pakistan will have to do without the services of captain Rizwan Sr. who is also the principal playmaker of the side.
Both Pakistan and Malaysia have a point each ahead of their final pool games but the Men in Green have a huge advantage as far as goal difference is concerned since Malaysia were thrashed 0-7 by the Netherlands in their opener while Pakistan went down fighting and lost by a lone goal to Germany,
Rizwan Sr picked up an injury during the Asian Champions Trophy at Muscat and missed the semifinal clash against Malaysia. The finals, incidentally, could not be played on account of bad weather as a result of which India and Pakistan shared the trophy.
Rizwan Sr. has had a lackluster tournament thus far at Bhubaneswar. The spectacular runs from midfield and the probing through-balls which have dissected some of the best defences in the world were not visible in Pakistan's matches against Germany and Malaysia.
In spite of the fact that Rizwan Sr. has looked out of sorts thus far, his presence could have made a huge difference to Pakistan's fortunes should they progress to the crossovers which are scheduled to be played on Tuesday.
Pakistan is reeling from a double whammy as Ammad Butt was suspended by the FIH for an incident that occurred in the 40th minute of the pool match against Malaysia. Butt had charged down from the goal line, running over Malaysian drag-flicker Faizal Saari just after a PC had been taken.
An FIH Appeal Jury reviewed the suspension at the request of the Pakistan team and ruled in favour of reprimanding Butt who will be allowed to play but may face suspension if he is shown a yellow card.
"Convening today, the FIH Appeal Jury found the appellant, Ammad Butt, breached the Code of Conduct by carelessly, but not recklessly, running into the Malaysian player. However, the Jury accepted the additional evidence that the Appellant did subsequently show concern for the Malaysian player’s welfare."
"In view of the above, the Jury decided on the following penalty:
i) Ammad Butt is reprimanded for carelessly running into an opponent
ii) Should Ammad Butt receive a yellow card in the remainder of the tournament, the FIH Technical Delegate is recommended to suspend Ammad Butt."
While Butt will be allowed to continue playing, for now, Rizwan Sr.'s absence is likely to impact the Pakistan team in a big way.
Siegfried Aikman whose Japanese team has played against Pakistan twice in the last four months emphasized to Sportskeeda that Rizwan's loss will hurt the side badly.
Eventual gold-medalists Japan beat Pakistan by a 1-0 margin in the all-important semifinal of the Asian Games at Jakarta and later had to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Asian Champions Trophy at Muscat.
"The injury will absolutely hurt them. Rizwan Sr was a key player and their numbers will not have the same quality."
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Rizwan will be replaced by striker Arslan Qadir whose brother Faisal is part of the team at Bhubaneswar.