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Darkest hour of Pakistan hockey, says Islahuddin

August 31, 2013
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.