Dawn News

Pakistan played without any energy and made many mistakes against Australia. -Photo by AFP

Salman Akbar is a veteran goal-keeper who made his debut for Pakistan’s hockey team in 2001. Termed by Olympian Shahid Ali Khan as one of the most hard-working players in the game, Akbar has won the 2005 Rabo Trophy and the 2010 Asian Games gold medal with Pakistan. He was adjudged the ‘best keeper’ in both events. Here, he reviews Pakistan’s performance against Australia and talks about their next match against South Korea on Thursday.

Crushed by the champions

Nothing good to write about this match as it was Pakistan's worst ever defeat in the Olympics. From the very first minute, Australia did exactly what was expected from them and what they are famous.

Pakistan, however, did not do what was expected from them and started the game with no planning and absolutely no energy, making mistakes after mistakes. Lacking courage, Pakistan tried to start off defensively but that did not work out too well as Australia were leading 2-0 after just six minutes.

Pakistan didn't create a single penalty corner and the Australian goal keeper did not touch the ball in the 70 minute game. It was a shock to see Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi on the bench before the match started. The coaching staff did not recognize the importance of the match and put a weak starting 11 against the world champions. The 4-0 scoreline at half-time clearly showed Pakistan’s incompetency thus far in all departments of the game.

Goalkeeper Imran Shah made a few simple saves but mostly he was just like beginner standing under the bar which raised a lot of questions.

Why was he the only goalkeeper in the squad of 16? More importantly, what kind of training had been given to him by the goal keeper trainer who has been with the team for many years?

There was no connection in the team and the defensive errors were shocking. Strikers showed individual play which cost Pakistan their worst defeat. There should have been a fightback from the Greenshirts even after letting two goals in after six minutes but in the last twenty minutes of the match it looked like everyone was just waiting for it to get over. On the other hand, it was obvious that the Australians had done their homework.

Korea's skill and speed

Korea, famous for their fitness and agility, are ranked sixth in the world. They love to play full speed hockey and boast of a lot of skillful players with some solid defenders. Seo Jongho, Hyo Sik You, Lee Nam Yong and Nam Hyun Woo are their force. They build up with very high ball speed and don’t play many long balls while trying to bring the ball in the midfield to generate the attack from there. Jang Jong

Hyun is their weak player in build and defense but he is their main drag flicker along with Nam Hyun Woo and both of them have very good speed in their flicks.

Korea’s midfield generates the attack and joins it with the strikers who are very speedy, especially Seo and You. They like to enter in the circle from the flanks and have high speed restarts around the circle.

Though not good in defending the turn overs, when they do get the turn over, they are one of the best with their speed. One of their weak points is their goalkeeper who is not good on the top right and both high and low on the leftand comes out of the goal a lot. However, their penalty corner attack is good and they use variations with good straight drag flicks. In penalty corner defense they have very speedy first runners but they are not good in defending indirect variations.

Pakistan will be playing this match after putting up a bad performance against Australia. However, the Greenshirts should put that behind them and take this classification match seriously which will decide the seventh and eighth position to finish their campaign by getting the best possible seventh position.

Pakistan should make use of all their experienced players in this match and work as a unit in all the departments. Imran Shah should give a good performance in at least one match of the mega event.

Slow down the pace 

Green machine should start the game with semi press and allow Korea to come from their left side in which they are not good. Pakistan's defense should be very active right from the first minute of the game and the whole team should be in connection until the end. Midfield should also be ready for the pressure from Koreans and Pakistan should attack from their right side and use short passes to beat the Korean defense.

They should do maximum overlaps to increase the number of the players in the attack. The Korean goalkeeper loves to go out of the goal every time so the strikers should use it smartly and try to give one extra pass in the circle to get an open goal in front of them. When Pakistan will be on the attack, the defenders should mark their free strikers well to avoid the turn overs.

On penalty corner attack, our first drag flickers should go on the right top of the Korean keeper with maximum force. On penalty corner defense, Pakistan's goal keeper should look for his right high and left low on the first shots and the defensive runs should be 3-1 most of the time.

It will be a high speed game so Pakistan should be using full advantage of the rolling substitutions to have fresh legs in the field at all times. Pakistan should not try to match the speed of their opponents and should try to keep the pace of the game a little slow as this will annoy the Koreans. By making simple fouls, the Korean attack can be broken in order to halt their rhythym and speed but Sohail Abbas' men should be very careful to avoid the cards.

It is also possible that this match goes in two sessions of extra time for a golden goal and maybe a shootout to determine the winner. If that happens then hopefully, the coaches have prepared the team well for extra time and shootout.

Players to watch

Muhammad Rashid, Sohail Abbas and Haseem Khan.

Comments (20) Closed

Aug 09, 2012 08:48am
nice article.
Aug 08, 2012 04:42pm
I can't see Pakistan winning against the Koreans after the abject display against the Aussies. The south-east Asians are much fitter for a start and will have game-plan and tactics worked out unlike us who will be clueless as ever. At least we should finish above the Indians!
Ijaz Mir
Aug 08, 2012 05:04pm
No comments, I think they will end up to #8 position that is they wanted to maintain.
Aug 08, 2012 05:20pm
I am great fan of yours Salman akbar . I was absolutely stunned when you were not selected for the Olympics . Its imperative for Pakistani players to play with attacking mindset . They look dull , with no rage .
Sheikh Imran
Aug 08, 2012 05:52pm
Why should India be a point of reference or comparison? In any case they have managed 4 medals so far.. what's our count?
Aug 08, 2012 06:00pm
Oh Yes, India is the end of the world for us.
Nasser Ali-Khan
Aug 08, 2012 06:45pm
No one to question PHF; is there no accountability?
Aug 08, 2012 06:52pm
Wow i can't believe you would be happy with finishing better than India who have been hopless this season in hockey
Aug 08, 2012 07:02pm
Why did the management not take the author to the olympics knowing that he clearly is the best goalkeeper in the country? Pakistan won the Gold medal in Asian Games mainly because he put them in the final after the penalty shootout with the Koreans. PHF and its sifarshi heads and also players should be removed immediately because we all know they don't have the decency or conscience to resign themselves. Govt should stop forcing its cronies into PHF and other sports institutions.
Salman Akbar
Aug 08, 2012 08:41pm
Totally agree one of the main reason of our failure as a nation is that we still didn't came out of this shit Pakistan-India mentality. For me it was the past and now we should look forward we have so many problems to solve in our own country better to look at them first.
Aug 08, 2012 09:10pm
Is there accountability anywhere in any department of Pakistan? The word has no meaning there!
Aug 08, 2012 09:39pm
India is our neighbour and we should hope they do well. This non sense about being better than india has taken pakistan nowhere.
Aug 08, 2012 09:55pm
Even if you want to keep India as your target which is a high target to begin with we are still way behind India in almost every sector of life whether it be sports or economy. We need to wake up and correct ourselves rather than living in a dream world.
maria khattak
Aug 09, 2012 12:49am
PHF chairman should resign, the olympic comittee should be taken to task.The officials just went for shopping.
Aijaz Ahmad
Aug 09, 2012 02:04am
Why even discuss the match for seventh place? Our performance has been shameful. There is no accountability and the people in charge will stay where they are. Even the Australian coach could not believe at the margin of the result. Most disappointing as well as embarrassing.
Prof Hassan Zayad
Aug 09, 2012 02:38am
Until Pakistan select players on merit, dishonour is the fortune for my country - Pakistan. The favoured boys are getting good Holloway paid for by starving nation. History tells such nations have always culminated towards self destruction leading to eventual elimination. History of Muslims over the centuries is shouting about such an end. "The ones fails to learn from time vanishes in time".
Aug 09, 2012 04:05am
Pity Nz is much better than Pak and should deserve higher than Pakistan
Aug 09, 2012 04:06am
It is immaterial whether Pakistan finishes above or below India - Please get this through your heads that it is about sportsmanship, skills, talent, ability, strategy, preparedness, mental astuteness, drive, agility which is appreciated in sports competition and NOT political or ethnic or religious divide. THE OLYMPICS ARE ABOUT SPORT AND SPIRIT OF SPORT IN PARTICIPATING NATIONS <period>
Parth Sarthy
Aug 09, 2012 08:04am
As far as sports is concerned be it India or Pakistan we are just hopeless, we have talented players but really don know what holds them to perform
Muhammad Ahmed Mufti
Aug 09, 2012 12:36pm
We should not blame the team or the coaches when we treat hockey as a third rated game in Pakistan. With game dead at grass root level what else could be expected? I remember the times when every small neighborhood had junior and senior level teams. Our elders use to come from work and play a good hour of hockey before going for the Maghreb prayers. These neighborhoods used to hold tournaments mostly around 23rd March or August 14th. Schools had hockey rivalries. Hockey was a true national sport and the national team's results reflected it. Today by all practical definitions cricket is our national game followed by video games. Our national team's performance is "as expected". Unless this trend changes and hockey is revived at grass root level , don't expect for miracles!