JAKARTA: Pakistan defeated Bangladesh 5-0 in their last pool match of the Asian Games Hockey Tournament at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here on Tuesday. With this victory, Pakistan have entered the semi-finals as the top team of Group B. Pakistan led 3-0 at half time. Bangladesh finished third in the group and qualify for the sixth-fifth position decider. It was the first time that Bangladesh finished third in their group. Pakistan will face Japan, who defeated South Korea 3-2, in the semi-finals. Bangladesh went down a goal after just a minute’s play as Mohammad Atiq found the mark. Mubashar Ali then doubled the lead in the ninth minute by scoring from a penalty corner. Mubashar scored from another penalty corner in the second period of play. Shan Ali scored in the third period before Atiq scored his second in the fourth period from a penalty corner. India are the top team in Pool A with five wins from as many matches. They will face second-placed Malaysia from Pool B. A marquee final between arch-rivals Pakistan and India is on the cards if both teams beat their respective opponents in the semis on August 30. The final of the Asian Games hockey event will be played on September 1. Pakistan’s hockey team represents the national contingent’s best hope for a gold medal. Hockey at the Asian Games is always a highlight and this year sees one of the biggest fields of competitors with 12 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams all searching for that most sought after of prizes — to be the first nation to qualify for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Pakistan’s medal tally in 15 hockey tournaments of the Asian Games is eight gold, three silver and three bronze medals- hockey was not included in the first two Asiads, in 1951 and 1954. From 1958 to 1990, Pakistan claimed seven gold and two silver medals in nine consecutive Asian Games, a remarkable sequence. This included four consecutive golds from 1970 to 1982. But in the next four Asian Games, Pakistan failed to reach even the final. In 1994, 1998 and 2006, Pakistan were third. In 2002 Pakistan failed to climb on to the podium, losing to Malaysia in the bronze medal play-off. In 2010, the Green Shirts regained the gold after 20 years. The first place also gave them an automatic qualification for the 2012 Olympics. At the last Asian Games, in 2014, Pakistan again managed to reach the final where they met India. Pakistan had defeated India in the pool match. The final was an exciting game between the two traditional rivals. It was 1-1 after the regular time. However, Pakistan went down in the shootout. Thus, they lost the chance to get an automatic qualification for the Olympics. Published in Daily Times, August 29th 2018.