RAWALPINDI - Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh termed Pakistan team’s worst showing in the recently-concluded Junior World Hockey Cup in New Delhi as disgrace to the nation which once ruled this game.
Talking to The Nation, Shahnaz said: “Despite the green shirts having the services of nine players from the senior team, who had played more than 70 to 80 international matches, the team failed miserably in giving even ordinary results against much weak opponents. The way Germans beat Pakistan, was very hard to digest for the Olympians, who had time and again offered their services to the PHF, but neither the former regime nor the current PHF even bothered to respond to our offer.”
He said players were not utilized according to their abilities. “Umer Bhutta is a attacking-minded defensive player, but he was forced to play in the defensive role, that was the reason our attacking was very weak and we concede too many goals. Once again green shirts scored only six goals and conceded 10, which is quite alarming and showed our concerns were genuine. Former greats have warned the PHF to adopt aggressive approach, but no heed was paid to our suggestions, which resulted in shameful finish in the Junior World Cup,” the ex-Olympian added.
“It is a matter of grave concern that a team like France managed to enter the final, while on the other hand, once the super power of world hockey Pakistan team finished as lowly as No 9 and that too thanks to plenty shootout victory against arch-rivals India, otherwise, we could have finished at number 10. These ordinary results are not acceptable to the masses or former greats. We had given our lives to this game and now it is very pinching to watch national team is going from bad to worse after each passing day,” he asserted. Shahnaz said it was noticed during the pool matches that Pakistan players were not holding the possession of ball for longer periods of time and they were lacking circle penetration and the ratio of shooting against opponents’ goal was very low.
“Fitness of the players was also highly questionable, as the players looked completely tired after the first half and their body language spoke volumes about their poor fitness levels. It seemed they had the stamina of only playing for first 35 minutes and that was the reason why green shirts conceded too many goals in the second half of the pool matches, especially in the dying moments of the matches,” he added.
He said the team management, who remained at the helm of national teams affairs for the past four years or so, were suddenly replaced at the crucial time which cost Pakistan hockey team dearly, as the new management had hardly any role to play with the side, when such a high-profile event was just round the corner. “The PHF top brass should have stick with the same management till the completion of the Junior Hockey World Cup.” “Same people are at the helm of affairs of the PHF and they lack vision and direction. How could it be possible for Akhtar Rasool and Rana Mujahid to change the fast declining fortunes of Pakistan hockey team, when they failed to do so during the last five years or so. Only portfolios have been changed otherwise there is hardly any change in the PHF top brass. I have strong doubts about the future of Pakistan hockey as long as genuine and hard working people will not be taken on board,” Shahnaz concluded.