KARACHI: Olympians have expressed grave concerns over the hockey team’s lack of progress after Pakistan finished last at the six-nation Azlan Shah Cup that concluded in Ipoh, Malaysia on Sunday.
The Greenshirts, who clinched gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy, recorded just one win, while losing two matches besides registering a couple of draw to play the fifth-place playoff where they lost to India.
The Pakistan team management never adopted a serious attitude towards the final standings and termed the event as mere preparation for next year’s World Cup.
The attitude has, however, irked Olympians who feel that with a year remaining remaining in the prestigious event, the team’s performance looked far from satisfactory.
“The failure in Ipoh reflects our poor progress,” legendary Olympian Samiullah Khan told The Express Tribune. “Our hockey management is just repeating the mantra of World Cup preparations since failure at the London Olympics last year.
“But they haven’t done anything to bring amends as we are standing where we were after London. I am not optimistic about our preparations for the World Cup. We even struggled against Asian counterparts despite being the continental champions.
“Right now we are hovering around the eighth and tenth position.”
Khan, famous as ‘The Flying Horse’, warned that there was little time left now and the management needed to take things seriously.
“On the face of it, there’s a year left in the World Cup but this period is not enough considering our weaknesses. We need to improve in all areas especially in attack and defence.
“The team is relying heavily on individuals when it comes to attack but this strategy has failed. There is a need to enhance the team’s ability to attack in groups like Australia.
“Our strategy in defence is also flawed as we have stopped relying on the middle defence.
“The coaches cannot blame the goal-keeper for conceding goals as he is helpless when there is a flaw in defence.
“The team will have to work very hard to improve in these areas in order to match the world class teams.”
However, the former manager and coach advised the team management to persist with the new players who were introduced in Malaysia.
‘Coaching exposed in Azlan Shah Cup’
Meanwhile, former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui was disappointed and termed the result ‘unexpected’.
“The weaknesses of our coaches in various departments were also exposed during the tournament,” said Siddiqui.
Another former Olympian Qamar Zia said team work was lacking during the tournament, adding that every player was ‘just focusing on his individual game’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2013.