Chief hockey selector, others resign as Pakistan crash out of Rio Olympics

Pakistan lost 1-0 to Ireland in the FIH Hockey World League semi-finals, failing to qualify for the Olympics

Sports Desk July 04, 2015

Chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui has resigned from his post along with the other members of Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) selection committee following the team’s disastrous showing at the FIH Hockey World League Semi-finals as the team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in its history.

The resignation of Islahuddin comes as no surprise, as selection committee members Ayaz Mehmood and Khalid Bashir had stepped down from their post immediately after the loss to Ireland on Friday.

The backlash of the poor showing continued as hockey patron-in-chief Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also took notice of the national team’s poor performance and formed a committee to investigate into the failure to qualify.

The committee comprises of former captain Shahbaz Senior, former coach Khawaja Junaid, former PHF secretary Colonel Mudassir Azghar, Inter-Provincial Coordination secretary Ijaz Choudary and Pakistan Sports Board director-general Akhtar Ganjera, while a member of the Pakistan Olympic Committee is expected to join the committee as well.

Stepping down

Islahuddin said that he and his team came with a long-term five-year plan to revive hockey, but failed to produce results in the short term. “We came with a long-term plan for the rebuilding of the national team, which I had already said would take us at least three to four years,” he said while announcing his resignation. “Our long-term plan was affected by this failure to qualify for the Olympics, which was a major tournament in our plans.”

The former Olympian insisted the selectors picked the best possible combination based on their merits and experience but unfortunately the team failed to deliver. “If you ask me the selection committee did its job well. We picked out the best boys from those available. The manager and coaches too were satisfied,” he said. “However, I am resigning because I am part of the team that let the nation down.’’

Islahuddin also asked the fans to be patient with the new management and players that will be part of the inevitable overhaul of this failure. “The new blood should be given a chance but I will always be available for any kind of help,” he said.

Meanwhile, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh refused to comment on his future, saying that he will make an announcement after the final match of the ongoing FIH HWL Semi-finals.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.

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