Hockey team received a hero’s welcome in Lahore after winning a silver medal at the Azlan Shah Cup

The Pakistan hockey team received a warm welcome upon their arrival in Lahore on Sunday, hailed as heroes following their remarkable silver medal finish at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Despite a narrow loss in the final to a defensively resolute Japanese side on penalties, the team’s unbeaten journey to the final was celebrated.

While Japan initially took the lead, Roelant Oltmans’ squad displayed resilience, scoring two goals in quick succession. However, their advantage slipped away, ultimately succumbing in the penalty shootout.

Upon landing in Lahore, the team was greeted by a throng of supporters at the airport, adorned with garlands and bouquets. Fans displayed placards and banners, lauding the team for their commendable performance against formidable odds.

Welcoming the team were dignitaries including Chairman Prime Minister Youth Program Rana Mashhood, former Pakistan head coach Khawaja Junaid, and former Olympian Akhtar Rasool, among others. Mashhood expressed pride in the team’s achievements, highlighting the resurgence of hockey among Pakistan’s youth.

Promising continued support, Mashhood announced a cash prize of Rs1 million for each player on behalf of the prime minister, with plans for an official reception at the Prime Minister’s House.

Reflecting on the final, Japan’s early dominance was countered by Pakistan’s spirited second-half display, culminating in a thrilling 2-2 draw before Japan clinched victory in the shootout. Coach Roelant Oltmans expressed regret over missed opportunities but remains optimistic for future tournaments, including the FIH Nations Cup in Poland later this month, aiming to secure victory.

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