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Hall of shame


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The once-mighty have fallen very very low indeed.
The once-mighty have fallen very very low indeed.

The defeat in the Asia Cup was expected. When our over-rated Pakistan hockey team couldn’t even figure in the top three in the World Hockey League (WHL) in June-July, a requirement to qualify for the 2014 International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Cup, how could they even expect to win the Asia Cup, also a qualifier for the biggest event next year?

In the WHL in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, the Pakistani side, which was fifth in world rankings, drew 4-4 with Malaysia and 2-2 with England, both weak sides, to beat South Africa, which was ranked 12th by the way, by 6-2. The nation dying to see the Green Shirts make a comeback rejoiced. What was strange was that the team, too, seemed exceptionally happy about the victory. They relaxed in their next match against South Korea to lose 3-4 against a team ranked eighth in the world.

To make a long story short, the Green Shirts who can create chances but cannot score, couldn’t make the top three. They ended up seventh in the eight-team event, but were glad to not have picked up the wooden spoon.

It is a trait of the current Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) management to come up with some kind of an act after putting up a bad show in any tournament. The scapegoat this time was the team’s coach Hanif Khan and Tahir Zaman was asked to take over.

Meanwhile, chief coach Akhtar Rasool and the PHF management sat tight. When the team ended up 12th in the 12-team World Cup back in 2010, the entire 11 member team announced their retirement. Then the federation started another drama, saying that they were disheartened as they tried so hard but failed to achieve anything. One by one all were brought back to make the same team.

This was followed by the hiring of a foreign coach, Michel van dan Heuvel of Holland. The man had some effect as he managed to get a victory for the side in the Asian Games in 2011 in Guangzhou, China. Michel, during a press conference soon after taking charge of the team had said that as a young boy back home he had witnessed the Pakistan hockey team’s glory days. He said he remembered that players like Shahnaz Sheikh, Islahuddin, Samiullah, Hasan Sardar, etc., not running on the field but flying. “I want to make the Green

Shirts fly again,” he would say. But for reasons best known to the PHF, the man was fired in 2012, just ahead of the London Olympics.

Former hockey great Akhtar Rasool is the team’s chief coach ever since. There was just a month’s time between the WHL and Asia Cup but Rasool and deputy vowed to bring the national team to championship-winning standard. Meanwhile, all kinds of controversies took place. For instance when centre-forward Shakeel Abbasi was found to be fasting in camp during the holy month of Ramazan, he was told to stop fasting and on refusing to do so, was thrown out of the camp. Then realising a shortage of good players after not being able to discover more talent or groom young players, he was recalled after a few days.

There were tall claims of “this time it would be different” by the team management. They said that it is a must-win scenario for Pakistan in the Asia Cup so they will have to perform well. And then the 7-0 win for Pakistan in the first match against Japan in the Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, saw everyone making more claims of coming glory. And it seemed within grasp with another 4-1 victory against Malaysia. Beating Chinese Taipei 13-0 almost made it real but then in the semi-final against South Korea everything fell flat. South Korea defeated Pakistan 1-2 to send the Green Shirts back home with their tails between their legs. As only winning the Asia Cup could have got Pakistan a berth in the 2014 Hockey World Cup, the first time in the hockey history of this country its national team will be sitting out the event.

Comments (14) Closed

gangadin Sep 08, 2013 04:06pm

Instead of talent, if you select players based on connections, this is what happens.

Yankee Cricket Fan Sep 08, 2013 08:30pm

@gangadin: Nobody selects a team based on connections. It is ignorants in Pakistan who keep dreaming that as the reason for our defeats. It is time that Pakistani's wake up to the reality that at the international level, it is NOT about talent but coaching that wins you matches. You can beat the best side in the world by simply out-thinking and out-planning your opponent. No Pakistani that I know of has the brains to out-think the Europeans or the Koreans at this time. While we may be the most talented nation in hockey, we don't have the brain-power to compete internationally. We need hire foreign coaches to help derive gameplans andout-think the opponents, and once we hire them, give them time to jell a team that can complete internationally.

Syed A Zafar USA Sep 08, 2013 09:22pm

I know my straight forward comments are not liked and may not be published as usual, but still here is what I have to say. I want to add to gangadin's comments. Pakistan will never progress and succeed until and unless the dominance and occupation of Punjab and Punjabi establishment is not abolished and put to an end not only from Pakistani sports, but also from our institutions, be it our judiciary, armed forces, law enforcement agencies, bureaucracy, private and public sector, education etc. All the Pakistanis from every walk of life and region must have the means and the right of participation and representation regardless of their color race, religion, origin and regional background. Also it takes more than the curse of quota system, racial discrimination and the exclusive rights of Waderas, Chaudhries, and elit'es kids to use and occupy Pakistan in order to produce true heroes and champions. Please look at the numbers/statistics who are the most preferred and occupying people/forces not only in our sports but also in above mentioned fields. Check how many citizens from Baluchistan, Sind, KPK and rural areas of these provinces are given chance to participate in sports and others fields and in what ratio? This mentality of dominance and right to occupy even over the rights of the majority lead us to lose half of Pakistan and we are getting ready to lose the remaining parts of Pakistan. When the heads of sports, institutions, departments and players are chosen on the basis of regionalism, political party loyalties and elite's recommendations, and the Merit, Professionalism and Equal Opportunity means nothing, of course we have to reap this kind of repeated SHARAMNAK results. Did we forget this: When Mian Dad was about to make historic record for himself and for Pakistan, the dominating IK declared the inning just because he could not afford to see any other hero in his team, especially when he belonged to Urdu speaking community. He did not even care that it was a national loss too. Think about it: Why our country cannot produce Little Masters and Noble Prize winners any more? Who are the chairmen/leaders of our institutions, Cricket, Hockey and other sports and why?

Gerry D'Cunha Sep 08, 2013 09:38pm

the biggest hall of shame is pakistan been ban from olympic games

ahmedj Sep 08, 2013 10:22pm

The shame starts from the top. If your ex-president disregards sports and uses a hockey pitch for his farewell Guard of Honour, that says everything. Musharaf was given the so called honour on a hockey pitch by smartly turned soldiers with military boots on a sensitive astro-turf. That was the day national sacred sport died officially and formally by the killers.

Nasr Sep 09, 2013 12:15am

The phf secretary wants to reign the hockey affairs like late brig. Atif but he is unaware that he will not be able to do that because he do not have those talents . Sticking to power without laurels and sucsess will bring only shame. It is our demand that for the best interest he should resign or be forced to resign

SMJ Sep 09, 2013 12:16am

What a shame. Bypass the talent and this is what results!

Khan Sep 09, 2013 05:56am

When you select players from all over Pakistan and truly make it a national team then expect quality results, currently hockey, cricket and now football are all Lahore based regional teams and the result are in front of everyone

Sanjeev Yadav Sep 09, 2013 10:12am

It is shear delight to watch green shirt play hockey, India has completely lost hold the game. It is pakistan who play real hockey of the greats like Dhyanchand, Roop Singh etc. Pakistan is the last hope for classical hockey.

Saleem Sep 09, 2013 03:08pm

It is a SHAME that very few people play Hockey & we want to be World Champions. How many people play hockey so that we can have good players available. Cricket fever has taken over. This is again another classic example that we want to achieve something without working for it. Don't blame the players but we as Nation need to take this blame.

haris Sep 09, 2013 04:45pm

"...But for reasons best known to the PHF, the man was fired in 2012, just ahead of the London Olympics."

He was fired because he contracted with a dutch league team. Before he could clarify his stance he was fired, rather prematurely I would say, on the basis that a National Team coach is not allowed to contract any league team. Such type of act is considered as the violation of contract though it wasn't mentioned anywhere in his contract that he cannot take charge of local league teams. Again long live PHF - pathetic, isn't?

A Shah Sep 09, 2013 04:48pm

Shame on the nation! They should be hung!

HASAN MEHMOOD Sep 09, 2013 05:45pm

@gangadin: Wake up buddy. There is no effin talent or Skakeel Abbasi wouldn't be here. You cannot find even 100 hockey players who would qualify to play in the top hockey club of Holland or Germany.

gangadin Sep 10, 2013 05:17pm


I'm not your buddy and you missed the point. I don't lick Holland/Gemany etc. nor do I care about them.