KARACHI: Hockey Olympians and former captains have united to support the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) after the Asian Games debacle and have instead blamed the players for their poor show where they came back from Jakarta without a medal.
Pakistan hockey team finished fourth in the 2018 Asian Games and is being criticised for their poor approach in the last two games — the semi-final against Japan and the bronze medal match against arch-rivals India.
After much criticism on the current PHF management, the former Olympians including big names such as Qamar Ibrahim, Nasir Ali, Kamran Ashraf, Ayaz Mehmood, Saleem Shirwani, Sameer Hussain and Nasir Ahmed along with others came out to support the federation.
“The federation has played their part well, they have provided the funds to the team beforehand from their own pockets, have established camps on national and international venues, provided them with the best coach and also the best required diet,” told Ibrahim to The Express Tribune.
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“It is the team and the players who should be criticised as they were not able to deliver. They won all pool matches, but lost to Japan which had no justification. They had everything but the energy and the spark that was needed in the match against Japan was missing and the same happened against India,” he added.
On the other hand, the same Olympians also had an opinion that the team’s goal margin has improved than before. “The goal margin against top teams has improved but they were not able to finish the game in their favour,” said Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, former captain Nasir Ali also praised the team saying that they tried their best and were doing well until the semi-finals. “The team looked like they had lost the passion to win the game. They were just carrying the ball forward but were not trying to score. The forward line was not seen attacking; they were hiding,” he said.
He added that the federation’s job is to provide facilities to players and they did that. Now it was players’ responsibility to go and win the medal for the country which they failed to do. “The federation and the coach cannot go out in field and hold their hands to push the ball into the net; the players have to do that themselves.”
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Former assistant coach Hussain, who was part of the team in the 2014 Asian Games where the team won silver medal, said that this team had everything they wanted and still weren’t able to deliver. “In 2014, when the team wasn’t given the dailies and other dues and were asked to perform well at the Games to get the dues cleared, they won silver medal and still didn’t get the prize,” he said.
“This team had everything they needed and still lost to a team like Japan and also to India. In both matches if they had put their best, they would have won,” he added.