Dawn News

-Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) have their wrong decisions to blame for the Greenshirts’ loss to Great Britain on Friday, but the good news is that Pakistan are still very much in the running for the hockey semi-finals, said former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui.

Speaking to Dawn from London after Pakistan lost their third group match to Great Britain 1-4, the ex-Olympian and coach said that he was disappointed to see Pakistan not utilising the chances coming their way during the match.

“Great Britain were aggressive from the very start and they maintained that pace throughout the first half. The beginning of the second half though saw them slowing down a little, but Pakistan failed to take advantage of that as well. That’s when our forwards Rehan Butt and Haseem Khan missed all their shots at the goal,” regretted Islah.

“Had the Pakistan team capitalised on the chances coming their way, the result would have been very different. You just can’t afford to waste chances in big matches,” he commented.

Reminding what he had said in his earlier advice after Pakistan’s 2-0 victory against Argentina on Wednesday, Islah said: “Earlier, too, I had asked the boys, especially our defence to stay calm. You pay the penalty if you play rashly, which is exactly what happened this time when we had to play with nine players against an 11-man Great Britain side.

“Playing with fewer boys ruins your attack and you have no choice left but to play defensively. Your plan, your tempo breaks, which is something you hadn’t thought of when going into the game,” Islah pointed out.

“And why was Waqas Sharif even arguing with the umpire again and again?” He wondered. “Another major foul up on the PHF’s part was taking the national team to the Olympics with one goalkeeper, with whom they are stuck even after four goals by the opponents,” Islah said.

“Senior and experienced goalkeeper Salman Akbar was greatly missed on Friday. And to think that he was ignored when players who are even older than him are part of the Pakistan squad,” he said. “You cannot build your team based on personal likes and dislikes and politics,” Islah regretted.

Finally, he said: “Losing to Great Britain saw Pakistan missing out on an ideal chance for winning and making a place for themselves in the semi-finals. Still, we are very much in the running for the top four, if we win both our remaining group matches unlike India who after three straight losses in their group have no chance of moving ahead.

“All we have to do is pull up our socks while availing the chances coming our way,” he concluded.

Pakistan play their fourth group match with South Africa on Sunday.

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