Pakistan hockey team’s defeat shameful: Former Olympians

Monday, October 11, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan hockey Olympians and international stars attributed “faulty defence” as the prime reason for the team’s “shameful” defeat to India in the Commonwealth Games, a media report said Monday.

“Pakistan had already lost the match in the first four minutes,” said former team captain and coach Samiullah Khan, reported the Urdu daily Jang.

Khan, a left-winger who led the gold-winning Pakistani side in the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok, said goalkeeper Imran Shah was not to blame, but it were the defenders who were to blame “for leaving lots of gaps which Indian forwards made full use of and scored”.

“It seems coach Michael van den Heuvel is yet to understand the team,” he said, adding the decision to take just one goalkeeper for such a big event was a “big mistake”.

“After this, Pakistan seems to have no chance in the Asian Games,” Khan said.

For Olympian Mohammad Qamar Ibrahim, it was lamentable that the entire defence crumbled after the goalkeeper proved unequal to the task.

“It was clear that the responsibility of the whole defence only rested on the goalkeeper,” said Ibrahim, a member of Pakistan’s gold winning squad at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.

He also was of the opinion that after successive defeats to India in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, the team would come under great pressure in the Asian Games.

Terming the planning of the coach “most faulty”, Ibrahim said it was usually the method of Dutch coaches to instruct the team to play defensive in the first ten minutes.

“This style is alien to us and the team could not familiarise itself with it. We are used to a more offensive method.”

Ibrahim also said that senior team players must improve their fitness levels, singling out captain Zeeshan Ashraf “who should not have played if he was not fully fit”.

International player and academy coach Mohammad Ali Khan was lavish in his praise for the Indian side, saying it had outplayed Pakistan in all respects.

“Pakistani defenders appeared hopeless in front of the swift Indian forwards. It seems that after a creditable performance against Australia (where they lost by a small margin), the ‘Green Shirts’ grew complacent. The goalkeeper failed to rise to the occasion and there seemed a lack of coordination between the players. On the other hand, the Indians’ short passes and control over the ball was exemplary,” he said.

India crushed Pakistan 7-4 to storm into the semi-finals of the men’s hockey competition in New Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, with some 20,000 Indians rooting loudly for the home team.

Cheering VIP spectators included Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Filed under: Commonwealth Games, Hockey, Soccer

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