THE catastrophic trend in Pakistan hockey that has seen the national team go from bad to worse during the past four years or so touched its lowest ebb last Friday. The team missed the last boat to the 2014 World Cup following their 1-2 semi-final defeat against South Korea in Ipoh, Malaysia. Pakistan arrived in Malaysia needing a mandatory title win at the Asia Cup to qualify for next year’s World Cup in the Netherlands. With three back-to-back victories in league matches, the greenshirts emerged as the favourites and looked tantalisingly poised to realise their dream. However, South Korea got the better of them in the semi-final and later went on to win the title with an emphatic win over India in the final.
For Pakistan, the ouster from the World Cup was their darkest hour, as described by some critics and ex-Olympians. Never since the inception of the mega event in 1971 has Pakistan faltered in such a way to miss the World Cup altogether. It hurts even more when one is reminded of the pivotal role Pakistan played in launching the World Cup some 42 years ago and of their tremendous record of four title wins in 1971 at Barcelona, 1978 at Buenos Aires, 1982 in Mumbai and 1994 at Sydney. Quite expectedly, the Ipoh disaster has triggered a massive uproar in the sports fraternity within the country, and the demand for the incumbent Pakistan Hockey Federation regime as well as the entire team management to step down is growing by the day. Without doubt, the shambolic state of Pakistan hockey today can be attributed to the current PHF regime whose bad policies and lack of planning saw Pakistan finishing last among 12 teams in the New Delhi World Cup in 2010 and at a lowly seventh position at the London Olympics last year. The government needs to work on a war footing to clear the hockey mess and to prevent further ignominy from coming Pakistan’s way.