KARACHI, Oct 27: Former Pakistan hockey goalkeeper Mohammad Qasim, who died of cancer, was laid to rest in his hometown Gojra on Thursday. He was 32.

The goalkeeper, who has left behind a widow and a daughter, lost the battle for survival despite undergoing treatment in the US. He received a chest injury during a practice session which later developed into cancer which was diagnosed in late 2003.

Former Pakistan captain Hanif Khan who was Qasim’s coach from 2000 to 2002, said he was a fearless goalkeeper. The former coach urged Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and all former Olympians and internationals to form a welfare fund for the family of the ‘keeper.

“He was truly a bold goalkeeper. It is indeed a big loss. PHF could only recognize his services by forming a fund. Apart from PHF, all former Olympians and internationals should also contribute to the fund for Qasim’s family,” said Hanif.

Tahir Zaman, a former team-mate and also Qasim’s coach, said the deceased was a fine custodian and a lively person.

“He was a wonderful and jolly person. His friends always enjoyed his company. It was his strong determination that he survived two years after being diagnosed with cancer,” former Pakistan captain said from Gojra.

Mohammad Usman, under whose captaincy Qasim played as a first choice goalkeeper in 1999 at Rabo Trophy in the Netherlands, said the goalie’s death at such a young age was a tragic incident.

“We were good friends and it was under my captaincy that Qasim first played as main goalkeeper in 1999. All I can say is that it is a tragic loss for all of us,” Usman said from Gojra.

Qasim once again became the number one goalkeeper after Ahmad Alam retired in 2001 following a slump in form. Although Pakistan finished a poor fifth at the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Qasim was at his best.

His career ended when he missed the Athens Olympic Games after getting injured during a practice session.

He made his debut for Pakistan senior team in 1998 when he represented the country at Pakistan-India 1998 home and away series.

He also wore Pakistan colours in 1998 Utrecht World Cup, in 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, the 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2002 Busan Asian Games and Champions Trophy tournaments.

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