KARACHI: If not being able to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in the nation’s history was not enough, Pakistan’s national hockey team inflicted yet another blow after losing 2-1 to France in the seventh-eighth place match to finish last at the Hockey World League in Antwerp, Belgium. And as the loss soaked in, sources inside the Pakistan Hockey Federation claimed that pressure on the players and head coach Shahnaz Sheikh to resign had mounted.
However, skipper Muhammad Imran and Sheikh denied these reports, stating that decisions would only be made once the team returned back home on July 7. “We have not resigned and neither do we have any plans to do so. This is our national team and we can’t leave it just like that,” Imran told The Express Tribune. “We will take the decision when we are home and will leave it up to the management to decide.”
Meanwhile, Sheikh iterated that regardless of the poor showing, where the Greenshirts only managed one win in the tournament, he and his staff had done more good for Pakistan hockey than bad.
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“A few bad results don’t mean anything. All the good work done by me and my supporting staff has been wiped off by this poor display,” said Sheikh. “I agree that the results were not good, but we’ve achieved more than we’ve lost in recent years.”
Sheikh also added that the revival of Pakistan hockey cannot be achieved by waving a wand and is a comprehensive process which involves the ardent support from the federation. However, he insisted that no such assistance was given to the team by the federation and the players had to train under poor conditions, and many-a-times without even being paid.
“There is no hope for Pakistan hockey rising back from the ashes if the basic issues are not resolved. We need a complete revamp of the setup and hefty finances,” he added. “I had requested the federation time and time again to arrange international tours for the team to provide much-needed international exposure, but no serious efforts were made.”
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The head coach further demanded that the prime minister needed to order a complete inquiry into the team’s poor display in Belgium and then make proper calls based on the information gathered. “If I am found guilty then so be it. But I will not be taking any decision in haste.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.
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