KARACHI: Former Olympians and internationals expressed their shock and deepest concern on Monday over Pakistan hockey team’s disastrous show in the recently-concluded Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia where the greenshirts finished last among the six competing teams.
“Poor results in Azlan Shah Cup showed that our hockey is heading nowhere despite tall claims by PHF,” 1984 Los Angles gold medallist Ayaz Mahmood said.
“While the team performance is going down with each passing day, the PHF quite amazingly is expressing their satisfaction over it and setting up new targets. They should be realistic about it and admit that the team is performing poorly.”
“Without improving and strengthening our domestic hockey structure our hockey cannot be put back on track,” the former centre-half said.”
Ayaz advocated the launching of a 7-a-side floodlight hockey in order to attract youngsters to the game.
“Look at the progress of teams like Malaysia and South Korea. While they are going from strength to strength, our team is putting up a shameful show in international events,” he lamented.
He said it was wonderful to watch the highly exciting final between Australia and Malaysia where both teams displayed high level of skill and fitness.
Pakistan’s star forward of yesteryear Hasan Sardar was also critical of team’s show in Ipoh. “To be frank I was dismayed and shocked with such a pathetic show by Pakistan in Azlan Shah,” said Hasan.
“The junior players played poorly because they lacked the basics of the game. It appeared as if they were playing for an academy side and not representing Pakistan.”
Another Olympian Salim Sherwani said double defeat against arch-rival India was alarming and disappointing.
“India is an ordinary side which has been struggling for quite sometime, but we even failed to beat them in the tournament. Ok, ours was a young team without experienced players but finishing sixth in the event is shameful,” said Salim, a gold medal winner of 1984 Los Angles Olympics.
“Our goalkeeper Imran Shah also let us down in key games.”
Former International Jan Mohammad, who played two Champions Trophies for Pakistan in the eighties, said he was surprised with such a poor show by the team.
He called for increasing the base of national hockey and attracting youngsters towards the game.
“Hockey standards can be improved by creating job opportunities for younger players and providing incentives to students playing the sport in schools.”
He said some of the players representing Pakistan juniors have no jobs which is a big discouraging factor.—APP