KARACHI, July 7: The Pakistan hockey team finished seventh in the World Hockey League that concluded at Johor Bahru, Malaysia, on Sunday with Germany taking the gold in the event. The qualifier for the 2014 FIH Hockey World Cup also saw the winners along with Argentina and England, who took silver and bronze, respectively, qualifying.

Pakistan beat South Africa 6-2 in the seventh-position match. “Imagine! This is the team that was so positive about qualifying for the World Cup. Pakistan Hockey Federation’s [PHF] top brass and team management had claimed to be well-prepared for the event,” said Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui, while speaking to Dawn after the event. “But instead of being in the top three teams they ended up among the bottom three!” he lamented.

“They missed a golden opportunity. As said earlier, too, there will be another chance to qualify for the World Cup coming up in on month in the form of the Asia Cup, but it will also feature Korea, India, China, Malaysia, etc.,” the former captain and coach reminded. “And only the top team, which is the winner in that event, will qualify,” he pointed out.

“I will repeat again that the federation has not been able to prepare a proper team in the last five years. They haven’t even been able to come up with a side that can play a second-grade tournament like the World Hockey League was,” he said.

“Pakistan has always played full strength be it any four-nation event or a six-nation one like they do in the Asian Games, the Olympics, Champions Trophy, etc. In the world-class tournaments, we haven’t been able to move above the eighth position,” he maintained.

“Even in this second-grade event, Pakistan, which is ranked at fifth in the world lost to Korea that is ranked eighth and Malaysia, that is 13th. The only team we beat, and twice, was the 12th-ranked South Africa, and even there they scored two goals on us,” he added.

“I am hearing reports that the PHF will change the team management now but I say that those who brought this management should themselves be changed.

“They should now gracefully accept their own defeat at trying to improve the national sport of hockey and step down. And if they can’t do that, I appeal to the patron-in chief of hockey in Pakistan, Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to step in and do the needful,” Islah concluded.

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