KARACHI: Pakistan hockey team, which returned with empty hands from the 18th edition of the Asian Games, losing the bronze medal match against India, are still satisfied by their improved performance.
Men in Green won all of their five pool matches in a dominating way, conceding only one goal and scoring 45 before losing the semi-final against Japan and the bronze medal match against India.
Pakistan team last displayed a similar performance at the 2002 Asian Games when after winning their three pool matches; they lost the semi-final to India and the bronze medal match to Malaysia.
However, captain Muhammad Rizwan Senior is satisfied with his team’s performance. “The performance of the boys and the game play was much better than before. They have improved a lot which is a good sign,” he told The Express Tribune.
“Although we didn’t win a medal despite winning the first five matches, which is disappointing, but we played well, however luck was not on our side in the last two matches,” he added.
Rizwan laid emphasis on the importance of scoring the opening goal, which he believes puts the other team under pressure. “The matches we lost, both the matches, we didn’t score the first goal, which we did in other matches and I think that was the point that built pressure on us and we were unable to manage it,” he said.
Meanwhile, former captain Muhammad Irfan said their last two opponents, Japan and India, also praised their improved skills. “The new coach has worked on us a lot and that is why we have improved in specific areas. We know our job now and are clear about the moves to execute during matches.”
“Indian team also praised our gameplay and said the combination of the players is much better than before, and also the head coach who has worked with team India, also received praise,” he said. “This tournament had much significance for the Summer Olympics qualification but we still have more important assignments ahead and I believe if we keep working with this coach, we can turn into a really tough team to beat.”
On the other hand former Olympians are not happy with team’s performance.
The director of domestic hockey and player development Naveed Alam said that blaming luck is not professional. “The team lost the last two matches by making mistakes and missing chances. They should have known that Japan and India are tough teams and will require a different game plan.”
“They played the same way and lost; they cannot blame their luck. They did simple mistakes which I believe will be pointed out by the head coach and the management once they are back in the country. They have the hockey World Cup coming up and now will have to play in the qualification rounds for Olympics and for that they will have to learn from their mistakes,” he said.