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The state of the game: Questioning the PHF's strategy

March 19, 2013

Former hockey players criticised Pakistan Hockey Federation's (PHF) decision to experiment during the Azlan Shah Cup without targeting the title. — Photo by Sara Faruqi

Pakistan finished last at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia for the second consecutive year after losing the fifth-sixth place play-off 4-2 to India, making it their second straight loss to the arch-rivals in the event.

The two defeats came after having beaten India for the Asian Champions Trophy title in December 2012.

With the Junior Hockey World Cup coming up later this year, Pakistan had picked a squad comprising young players in order to give them exposure to international teams and playing conditions.

Former hockey players criticised Pakistan Hockey Federation's (PHF) decision to experiment during the Azlan Shah Cup without targeting the title, adding that winning tournaments regularly is essential to become a force to be reckoned with in the international arena.

However, when India pulled out of the proposed bilateral series, PHF secretary, Asif Bajwa, said that the federation could stop the team from participating in the Junior Hockey World Cup which will take place in India from December 6-15.

Former Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui said, “After five years, the federation should have made three fine teams. Instead, they are still experimenting.”

Considering that the PHF are willing to pull out of the Junior Hockey World Cup, was it the correct strategy to experiment during the Azlan Shah Cup?

What were the main factors behind the last-place finish at the Azlan Shah Cup despite winning the Asian Champions Trophy just months ago?

Is it a good idea to pull out of the Junior Hockey World Cup as way of protest against India refusing to send its team to Pakistan for a bilateral hockey series?

What steps should the PHF take to ensure consistent performances from the team in the future?