KARACHI: The Green-shirts, who lacked spirit when playing against Australia, are still where they were four years ago, said Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui soon after the national team were thrashed 7-0 by the world champions in their final group match at the London Olympics.
“It was sad to watch these lifeless forms unable to even receive or pass the ball in the first half,” the former captain and coach reported to Dawn on line from London. “It looked like their legs had suddenly become very heavy when they couldn’t even take the ball anywhere near the Australian goalkeeper.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, in the second half they seemed in such a hurry that they just passed the ball here and there without any accuracy giving it to the Aussies whenever they got the ball.
“Meanwhile, Australia kept up their pace, which was obviously in contrast to ours. Amongst other things, it exposed the fitness level of our boys. Australia’s own fitness can be gauged from the fact that they scored their first goal in the initial five minutes, followed by the second a minute later in order to take a grip on the game.
“Hence the 4-0 margin at the end of the first half, was a huge one by Olympic standards,” he added.
“Pakistan got chances in second half but as usual our forwards Rizwan Sr and Abdul Haseem Khan missed out on them. And to think that goalkeeper Imran Shah made two to three saves, otherwise we would have lost by double figures instead of seven goals.
“From their body language, it looked as if the Green-shirts had accepted defeat even before they stepped on the field as Pakistan’s forwards couldn’t even take a single penalty-corner in the entire duration of the match. That way if they weren’t able to score themselves, they could have at least given their captain Sohail Abbas a chance at scoring.”
Islah also pointed out that Australia wasn’t an unbeatable team as Great Britain and Argentina drew against them.
“You just had to play well against them on this particular day, which you didn’t. Meanwhile they showed full skill in every department such as penalty-corner conversion, penalty-stroke conversion and field goals,” he said.
“Pakistan, after having played all their five group matches, have scored nine goals and conceded 16. That brings everything down to permutations and it is very likely that Pakistan will be vying for the seventh position.
“This brings the Green Shirts back to where they were four years ago in the Beijing Olympics.”
About the team’s only goalkeeper Imran Shah, Islah said: “Today Imran Shah conceded seven goals after conceding four goals twice in the earlier two matches. You can get an idea of his game from this performance, but the team management couldn’t even replace him after this as they never took a reserve goalkeeper with them.”
“And speaking of the team management,” Islah asked, “where was their game plan?
“Sadly the eighth-ranked Pakistan team only won two matches in their group, one to 11th-ranked Argentina and one to 12th-ranked South Africa. So after the team management’s recently declaring that they are aiming for the 2014 World Cup, I can only say that out of the 12 teams here, only one, Pakistan, played like they were in a festival while the remaining 11 came to compete at the Olympics,” he concluded.