KARACHI, Dec 16: Pakistan hockey’s most successful captain, right-winger Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui has said that the Chinese hockey team’s visit to Pakistan for the planned four-Test series is a part of the eyewash being created by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to cover its many blunders.
“The Chinese team has no standing in world hockey and our beating them by half a dozen goals or something will probably help the nation forget the recent Champions Trophy debacle. The PHF shouldn’t insult our intelligence like that,” said Islah while speaking to Dawn on Friday.
“I can only think of one positive aspect of the series, which is ending the drought of foreign teams’ visit to Pakistan, nothing more.”
Islah, who also has the distinction of being the triumphant captain of the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1978, further said:
“Quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be playing lightweight teams if we sincerely want our performance to go up. All the bigger hockey tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, four-nation event, Champions Trophy have shown that we are exactly where we were at the end of the 2008 Olympics, when the team finished eighth,” Islah pointed out.
“In the bigger events, we keep losing by big margins against all the European teams like Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. We first have to fill the gap in that margin. But here we are happily announcing that we beat Korea. This is the once great Pakistan hockey that we are talking about. We don’t want to be in the same league as lowly-ranked Korea,” he added.
“Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa have been running the affairs of the PHF for over three years now and we get to hear the same thing from them before and after tournaments. Returning from each event, they say we have marked our weaknesses and before going into an event they say we have overcome those weaknesses. Will they care to share those weaknesses with us please?” He remarked.
“If you ask me what is wrong with the team, offhand I can say that there is no coordination, combination and understanding among the players on the field,” said Islah. “Our mid-field and deep defense needs work as does the constant missing by our forwards. Also I see fitness as one of our biggest concerns. The boys are 100 per cent fit for domestic events but only 70 per cent fit for international events. The 30 per cent cannot be covered by holding 15-day camps. They need to hold training camps for six weeks at least,” he observed.
“The short training camp brings to light another problem, that of coaching. All the events that Pakistan has excelled in and won are the results of local coaching. We have hardly ever benefited from a foreign coach. What are we doing paying this man US$15,000 a month? A Pakistani coach is happy serving his country even on an honorarium. And why is the team manager being his spokesman. Team manager Khawaja Junaid’s only job is to see if the players’ travel papers are in order and if their food and lodging is up to satisfaction. He should not be giving any statements like being satisfied with the team’s performance, etc.,” Islah lashed out.
“And why is the PHF and its selection committee satisfied with the team’s performance anyway?” He asked. “I request hockey’s patron-in-chief, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to kindly take notice of all that is going on in the federation and save the national game from total disaster,” he concluded.