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Darkest hour of Pakistan hockey, says Islahuddin

Published Aug 31, 2013 12:03pm


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Tousiq Muhammad and South Korea's Kim Young Jin fight for the ball during their semi-final match at the Asia Cup field hockey 2013  tournament in Ipoh. -AFP PHOTO
Tousiq Muhammad and South Korea's Kim Young Jin fight for the ball during their semi-final match at the Asia Cup field hockey 2013 tournament in Ipoh. -AFP PHOTO

KARACHI: Former captain Islahuddin on Friday expressed his utter disgust at Pakistan’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Holland after the semi-final loss against South Korea in the Asia Cup and said this is clearly the darkest hour of Pakistan hockey.

“I really feel disgusted that Pakistan which launched and pioneered the World Cup competition has today failed to make the event,” Islahuddin, who led Pakistan's triumph to the 1978 title in Buenos Aires, said on Friday.

Pakistan — once a force in world hockey — won the World Cup titles in 1971 (Barcelona), 1978 (Buenos Aires), 1982 (Bombay) and 1994 (Sydney).

Islah blamed Pakistan forwards for letting the team down in the semi-final.

They lacked imagination and spark which is deeply disappointing for me.

“Our forwards went all out midway through the second session but they failed to test South Korean goalie,” he observed.

“The failure of the team has been brought due to the poor policies of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) which has been fooling people by making excuses and by setting false goals of ‘new competitions’ after every defeat,” he pointed out.

“After finishing last out of 12 teams in the World Cup in India, the PHF targeted the London Olympics where they secured 7th spot and now they have crashed out of the Asia Cup,” he lamented.

Islah said apart from being a poor show by the forwards, the Pakistan team could convert only one of their four penalty corners which was a poor display on their part.

He said although it was a good attempt by the team management to bring out goalkeeper Salman Akbar and include an extra forward but it failed to work.

He regretted that the Pakistan hockey pool of players was shrinking and instead of 30-40 players, hardly 25 players were available for selection in the national team.

Ex-Olympian Ayaz Mahmood was also dismayed at the loss and said what happened in Ipoh was expected because of the poor administration and policies of the PHF. He said,

The academies failed to produce a single player of international calibre.

He questioned the credibility of coaches working in PHF academies across Pakistan. “There was no quality coaching. So how can you expect to produce good players?” he questioned.

Ayaz, a member of 1984 Los Angles Olympics gold medal winning team, said there was no domestic hockey, which he termed the biggest cause of Pakistan hockey decline. “While the PHF barred 30 players in domestic hockey, there are plus 30 years age players in Pakistan hockey team with veteran Wasim Ahmed leading the way,” he asserted.

He said the PHF policy of non inclusion of over 30 years caused a great damage to hockey as many department excluded their players and cancelled their contracts.

“Hockey’s revival can only be made possible if we introduce 6-a-side floodlight format which can attract investors and sponsors if done properly,” he concluded.

—Contributions by APP.


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Comments (15) Closed

vijay Aug 31, 2013 12:35pm

Let me tell you. Our subcontinent hockey was hijacked by the Europeans where might is right and they are good at it. The art and the skill of playing(subcontinent) hockey is forever lost. Do not blame the players because the "fast and furious" type of hockey is not our cup of tea. India and Pakistan who were world champs should not have agreed to the change in rules set by the Europeans. India and Pakistan should play the classic type of hockey often so that this art is not lost.

KhanSaab Aug 31, 2013 01:48pm

Hockey is Pakistan national Sport? In every department and any section Pakistan has failed. Poor Country, poor sports, poor People. What a shame. The reason is that Pakistanis have weak character.

Tamil selvan Aug 31, 2013 02:29pm

Author is emotionally tied rather than facing reality. Now more counties are playing the game than in the 60's. both India and Pakistan must realize it and move on. Games are played in artificial turf so dribbling etc does not matter. Aim is to score gols and dribble around.

Shah Aug 31, 2013 02:46pm

If they pay close to what the cricketers get, things might have been different but currently, cricket is no love story either !!!

Guest63 Aug 31, 2013 02:54pm

AGREED SIR , however , this Darkest Moment is not just momentarily dawned on this national sport , In Full Brightly Lighted House ( The launch and the winning of the 1st and then 2 more later on too ) was set bit by bit switching off the Thinking & imaginative Lamps , over the year to the point that this low has arrived where The team had 2 chances to qualify ( world hickey league and asia cup ) and Yet did not . Its the self inflicted Darkness by the Players , by the organizations and zonal level , by the governing body PHF , No one can be excluded or made an escape goat . On this altar of hockey Crucifixion , No one is to be spared .

Guest63 Aug 31, 2013 03:04pm

@Tamil selvan: True you are , the game is more spread and countries are investing heavily while Pakistan does not have resources to have top class facilities as well as correct training logic . The game has become more Physical , I am a player of the same since 60s and the first time I watched the full league matches was the part of the world league played in Holland few months back , I confess to you , I did not recognize the game I knew field hockey .The game became Physical and the rules have been changed to suit that form . Thus the game has progressed beyond recognition compared to 50s and 60s time and there is no way out except the apply the same tactics like Australia , Holland , Germany , even England , are applying , the past Giants of the field hockey India Pakistan Agentina , Japan are not even matching south Korea Malaysia mainland china to state the comparison . They present the poor Maiano Maiano cats trying to ward of the menacing tigers .

Yusuf Raza Aug 31, 2013 03:30pm

@Tamil Selvan WIth your logic India and Pakistan should simply not play or achieve results in any sports where there are lot of countries playing? Why can't the subcontinental countries play well in all these sports. I think the author Islahuddin is absolutely correct in that building national teams takes a well thought plan, investments and honest governance. Obviously both Pakistan and India (Recent chaos in IOA/IOC) sports administration lack governance or for that matter any self respect to do well for their respective countries.

sami Aug 31, 2013 05:02pm

To keep the game alive in the country hockey needs promotion which requires sponsorship. To find talent there should be a national hockey league compromising of teams from major cities. Also to be consistent in world hockey players need more fitness and game plan which is the responsibility of Hockey Board.

Shoaib Aug 31, 2013 05:10pm

Similarly in cricket, once many countries start playing cricket we will end in the same situation as our hockey team.

Shariq Iqbal Aug 31, 2013 08:33pm

I fully agree,that Pakistan's Hockey has indeed hit bottom. In my view ,the un-matched supremacy of the sub-continent in field hockey could be attributed to "Short Passes",style of play Begining in the 70's ,the game rules were changed to make penalty corners,mainstay of the game..In my view the team(s) with better physical conditioning and stamina (advantage Europeans)now rule the game The solution ,Pakistan needs more training,more competitions more money,better recruits

Syed W. Ali Sep 01, 2013 04:20am

Back in 1988, I went to the tryouts for Adamjee College. Had I succeeded in getting an offer to join the team, it would've automatically qualified my for admissions into the intermediate program of this well-known college. Islahuddin also happened to be there on the ground with the names of 7 players scribbled on a small piece of paper in his hand. Suffice to say, meritocracy is not Islahuddin's founding principle. He participated in the corrupt "Parchi" practice. His played his part in the demise of hockey in Pakistan.

Fortunately, I found a place in the hockey team for Govt. College for Men and I was part of the team that won the Inter-College championship in '90.

Sack Islah ...

Ray Sep 01, 2013 11:03am

Sorry state of affairs. The argument that more countries have started to play doesn't hold as Brazil is still amongst the top teams despite so many team playing and football is more competitive and easier to start than hockey. PHF should have someone like Nur Khan at its helm, the current management doesn't seem to have what it takes to turn this around. Getting more money in the sport is also important and a bigger pool should be available. Not sure if the banks and big companies still hire the players or is it a thing of the past?

Akhtar Hassan Sep 01, 2013 05:24pm

There is one 'positive' from this loss. Now we cannot finish last in the World Cup as we had done in India. Haha. Jokes apart we should sack all those who are responsible and start afresh without any corruption.

khurram Sep 01, 2013 07:09pm

I 100% agreed, we are surviving in cricket so far because we only have 7 or 8 nations playing this sports. In hockey , only in recent Europe Hockey Championship which was held in last month 10 hockey nations participated and i can bet you guys that even last two bottom teams in that tournament could easily beat India or Pakistan. There are almost 36 nations participated in recent World Hockey League which included nations from all across world . The fact is hockey is much much popular sports in every part of the world as compared to what it was in 1940-1970's when India and Pakistan dominated. On the other hand , our old olympians think that their classical hockey dribbling can beat fast and furious european players which is totally wrong thinking We have to stop playing this kind of hockey and train players in same way which is demanded by modern hockey and sack first of all politicians like Akhtar Rasool. I dont understand that a person who can hardly walk due to his weight , how come he can train players

Asif Ali Khan Sep 01, 2013 08:45pm

@vijay: You are right Vijay that is why India and Pakistan both are at a disadvantage in new style of hockey.