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No decision on retirement yet: Sohail

-Photo by AFP

LONDON: Regretting one bad day against Australia caused his team’s ouster from the medals race, Pakistan hockey captain Sohail Abbas on Thursday said presently he was not ready to decide about his international career and would take a decision upon reaching home.

“I have not prepared my mind yet to take a decision on my international hockey career. It’s a big decision in a player’s life.

Therefore, I will consult my friends, family members and well-wishers before reaching any conclusion about retirement,” Sohail told Dawn after Pakistan ended their Olympic run with seventh place, defeating South Korea in the 7-8 place playoff.

The 37-year-old Sohail, a veteran of 349 international matches and world-record holder with 349 goals to his credit, is likely to call it a day after the mega event along with other senior players.

On Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) looking to raise a new team sans seniors for the 2014 World Cup, Sohail said he had no idea about PHF plans. “As far as I am concerned I will only take a decision about future [of my international career] upon reaching home,” he remarked.

Commenting on Pakistan hockey team’s show at London Olympics, Sohail said though he had not targeted a seventh place finish, it gave him some satisfaction.

“We like all the other teams were here to win the title. But one bad match against Australia created trouble for us,” he said referring to his team’s nightmarish 0-7 drubbing at the hands of Aussies in the last group match.

The captain regretted at the poor show his side exhibited at Riverbank Arena here, particularly against world champions Australia.

“The strategy for Olympics was to give our best in every match, but unfortunately the team’s performance remained a mixed bag,” he said.

“Against Australia, we all went down collectively. I admit the pressure should have been on the Australians in that game, but I could not imagine we would wilt like that in a high-pressure game,” he remarked.

“We conceded two early goals against Australia and that made the difference. I think the Australians had made a better plan against us, which also clicked. Otherwise we had also decided to play attacking hockey in that match.”

Hailing the seniors, he dispelled the impression that their performance remained below par in Olympics. “The seniors did their best and I am satisfied with their performance,” Sohail added.

Sohail said one of the major reasons for Pakistan hockey’s decline had been the absence of international competitions in the country during the last few years with no foreign team willing to tour Pakistan, once regarded a great power in world hockey.

“Our boys need international exposure. The entire Argentina team is playing hockey in Europe whereas opportunities like this are not available to Pakistan players,” he noted.

Acknowledging abundance of talent in the country, Sohail urged Pakistan should invest more in hockey. “The more you invest the more you get.”