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Easier group saved us from rock-bottom finish: Islah

Published Aug 09, 2012 08:01pm


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Shakeel Abbasi (C) of Pakistan goes past defenders of South Korea. -Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan could have been playing the 11th position match instead of the seventh position one had the Green-shirts been playing in Group ‘B’ instead of ‘A’ at the London Olympics, said Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui.

Speaking to Dawn from London soon after Pakistan edged past Korea 3-2 in the classification match to end up seventh in the Olympic hockey event, Islah said we could have been in India’s shoes but were lucky to be playing in the easier group among teams that didn’t carry that much weight.

“So the boys and team management should be ashamed of themselves if they think they achieved something by coming seventh out of the 12 participating teams,” he fumed.

Laying bare the statistics, he said: “In the five group matches that Pakistan played in the current Olympics, they won two, lost two and drew one. Doing so, they scored nine goals and conceded 16.

“Then if you look at our penalty-corners, we managed to get 12 of them in the first four matches as the last one against Australia saw us not even getting a single penalty-corner. Of these 12 we managed to convert just three.

“This shows a 25 per cent conversion rate in the group matches while the minimum should be 35 per cent. Meanwhile, the other five teams got 21 penalty-corners against us,” he pointed out.

“So looking at the goals conceded, one can figure out our team’s defence. And speaking of defence, what to say about the key person there, our goalkeeper Imran Shah! Now, if we had the seasoned Salman Akbar in the squad we may not have conceded so many goals. If any of the other 12 teams taking part in the competition also brought one goalkeeper, it was their best and most experienced man as no one takes such a big risk on a newcomer.

“Looking at our poor defence, we never had a chance to make it to the top four,” the expert pointed out.

“Obviously disappointed at having to play for seventh place, South Korea played the placement match halfheartedly though Pakistan really looked like they wanted to win this match to come back and tell the nation that they have bettered their eighth position of four years ago [in Beijing] by a spot,” said the former captain and coach.

“And yet they missed nine chances while their opponents missed eight in the placement match. Constant missing by Shafqat Rasool, Waqas Sharif was witnessed and the rest of our forward line. Pakistan got three penalty-corners, too, and captain Sohail Abbas couldn’t convert them as only the last one was converted by Mohammad Imran,” he said.

“Our missing ratio was very high in all the six matches that we played. It just shows that the team lacked proper training and was playing without any strategy,” he lamented.

“So this is where we stand, at number seven. And if we want to improve on that, we will now have to wait for the next Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in 2016. But seeing how things are at the moment who knows if we’ll even qualify for those Games,” he concluded with a sigh.


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Comments (20) Closed

Zahid Aug 11, 2012 11:27am
The blunder was to ban players and sack Dutch coach and hence our team lost the momentum. Analyzing that we would be at 11 in a different group does not add up to anything. They are just observations at the end of the competition. What matters most how can we effectively deploy our winning combination. To me, the goalie in the match against Australia seemed to be freely giving favors and I hardly saw any spirit in him. We always attack negatively by publicly asking players to resign. I fail to understand why we cannot make a calm and positive assessment of the situation. The simple fact is we do not have that kind of blue turf and the strong legs. The modern hockey has gone through a complete revamp and gone are the days of dribble, short passes and triangular combination. Clearly Europeans have tweaked rules in their favor.
Khan Aug 10, 2012 10:03am
Mansoor you are absolutely correct it is the Islah's, Shanaz's of the world who have ruined our hockey!! Islah is quick to forget when Shanaz was the coach we came 3rd in the Asian games and we lost against China for the first time. When Saqlain mentioned that Shanaz did not even know the modern rules he was banned. Needless to say Shanaz resigned immediately saying he had done his job!!!! And who says it was an easier pool!!!! Islah is a lunatic who had Mansoor Snr as coach!!! For the record - Spain came 2nd in the European Champship, Argentina recently played the final of the Azlan Shah, Australia World Champions, England rated 4th in World is this the easy pool Islah is referring to!!!! The man needs to get his facts checked out before he opens his mouth!!! All our 70's & 80's players and some from 90's suffer from verbal diarrhoea!!!
mansoor Aug 10, 2012 08:35am
Team Pakistan made us proud. With dwindling pool of players to choose from, lack of job opportunites, no infra structure at school and college level, minimal national level competition and lack of international matches at home. A country at war with itself with half the country on fire.You made us proud .Matches of skill and love for hockey vs technique and strategy.Our players did not fail us it was the thinking management and retired players like Islah who did not change the game with changing rules and tact's.
Aamir Aug 10, 2012 09:36am
We need people like Islahuddin to manage the Hockey Federation of Pakistan. Unfortunately like anything else in the country sports especially hockey deteriorating. We need long term planning rather than random decisions to gain a respectable position in international hockey.
Najam N. Aug 10, 2012 10:18am
Time to raise our hands high & declare " We can't do better". Having seen Australia vs. Germany, I found as if we were playing in a different competition.
Arshad Aug 10, 2012 10:29am
Hockey contest at London Olympics is coming to an end.I took special interest as my son is a hockey player and we would be at the finals tomorrow.PAK were the champions but the world has moved on.I agree PAK team and management is not fit for the purpose.They still think and play in the third division.The game is now played on blue,yes blue water based astra turf.The surface is fast,very fast.Our boys are not used to it.The Manager and coach has no idea or clue how to play on such surface.I recall the present PAK team said after practicing on it that they are now used to the surface! What else they can say?The players on the field has to be fit with razor sharp reactions.Must play with strength and aggressive long passes.The old dribbling,short passes is the game of past.We should build a team of average age 20.There is no place in the team for over 30.Sohail Abbas may be a hero in the past he has no place in the future.Similarly any other senior players should retire.We need players and captain without any past glories and baggage.Hockey should be encouraged at grass roots in Pakistan as we have the natural talent which can be channeled in the right direction with forward looking coach.The one who looks forward to the next tournament and not dreaming of playing at Rome when PAK won the gold medal on grass! We have to catch up with the countries who have taken up the sport in recent years.Our match with S.Korea was a touch and go.We could have easily lost that match with further mutilation.PAK was punished 7-0 by AUS.Can one imagine what the GER or HOL boys will do to us.This is the difference between PAK and the top teams.But after saying this PAK team can achieve the past glories by embarking on a long road.
Sam Aug 10, 2012 01:52pm
Things look totally reversed now, European teams look to get more field goals while Pakistani team was more intertesed in getting penelty corners. From logic point of view, hitting a non-moving goal is much better option then trying to hit ever-moving feet of opponent.
Tariq Aug 10, 2012 02:11pm
The physical fitness level of the players must be improved. According to Umer Sharif out players play with 3 hockey sticks two being their legs and one in hand. On the other hand when you see western players, they are all highly fit and have great physical strength. It a game of power, strategy and team play. Anyways I wish all the best for Pakistan for the next Olympics.
BBT Aug 10, 2012 02:25pm
Due to poor team's performance most pakistanis have lost interest in this sport. Shame on our team big time!
M R (Canada) Aug 10, 2012 03:06pm
Completely agree with you, Mansoor. This is not the same game that Islah used to play. The rules have changed. The players did really great and made us proud. It is unfair to be comparing this outcome to the wins of the 60s, 70s or early 80s. We have the highest goal scorer in the history of the sport, playing for us today. That is an amazing achievement for Pakistan (and for Sohail Abbas). As a Pakistani living abroad, I proudly point out this fact to my kids.
Imran Aug 10, 2012 03:06pm
Came on 7th place is also rock bottom for me. So don't think you guys did anything good.
Ali Aug 10, 2012 03:53pm
The writer failed to explain the teams would have gone above us if we were in a different pole and how?
Faisal Taquie Aug 10, 2012 04:22pm
Just FYI, Islah was the chief architect and coach when Pakistan rebounded from their, then worst finish in 1986 World Cup to runners up in 1990 and then winning in 1994. It is past players like him who seek excellence in their players that we need as all, hockey, squash, snooker, etc/.....!! Decline in all sports, instead of improving, is a systematic breakdown.
roomi Aug 10, 2012 07:23pm
A year ago in 2011 Pakistan hockey team had beaten Australia and also won a title after a long time. Somehow a few months later the Dutch coach was sacked and most of the senior players sacked or banned as they played in the Indian Hockey league to earn a living! PHF doesnt give these players enough money to survive yet they were banned! The PHF that controls hockey in Pak tried to send a young team to tournaments before Olympics but since it kept getting thrashed it decided to lift the ban from senior players one month before Olympics. They had already killed their own side as it takes time to make a combination! So these players were only playing togather for one month! You cant expect to win with such erratic and bad management! Talent is squandered! Salman Akbar Pakistan most experienced goal keeper is playing Dutch league yet they considered him unfit for Pakistan! Had they allowed the Dutch coach to work I think on the momentum Pakistan was creating it could have finished in the top 3-4! PHF is Pakistan Hockey’s own biggest enemy!
Mohammad B Khan Aug 10, 2012 08:32pm
Yawar Aug 10, 2012 08:40pm
Nothing can be achieved without proper investment. Our country is nearly baknrupt; thanks to the lack of income taxes. We dont have money to invest in basic neccessities like generating electricity. How can expect to invest in the future of Pakistan hockey or any other amatuer sporting activity.
Zahir Momin Aug 10, 2012 09:25pm
I agree with Mansoor. Game of hockey has significantly changed in last 10-15 years. Unfortunately, Pakistan hasn't buit infrastructure to produce world class players. Despite with current available resources Pakistan has still produced international quality hockey player. Well done Pakistan hockey team!
BEA Aug 10, 2012 09:57pm
What a sorry excuse for a player .
Tawheed Aug 11, 2012 02:33am
One thing is still uncertain... Why was Salman Akbar not chosen as a second goalkeeper...
Ali Vaqar Awan Aug 11, 2012 08:57am
Islah is our great player and legend. He is a respectable person. One thing he needs know is that these days playing style in hockey is different, not same as it was 30 years ago. He is recomending our hockey team to play with out -dated style. In this way our hockey will finish for good. In modern times hockey is more about fitness, physical strength, accurate passing and proper team coordination. Moreover, properly keeping pocession of the ball and how to defend after scoring a goal. Players tried their level best but its always our management and hockey federation that has let our players down. Also the group our team played was tough, not easy. Nothing can be taken for granted as standard of each team has improved. While Pakistan continues to struggle even failing to find themselves in top5. Its time government stops interfering in PHF affairs and all the people from top to bottom need to get fired. In thier place some one who has better knowledge about hockey runs the federation. Manager and coach needs to be foriegn from Holland or Germany. Islah should think twice before making such statements.