Former Pakistan hockey stars on Monday blamed poor management for the national team's humiliating defeat against arch-rivals India in the Commonwealth Games, predicting more disasters to come.
Pakistan went down 7-4 to India in the last group match of the field hockey event on Sunday, sending their rivals to the semi-finals and facing play-offs for the fifth position.
Olympian and former coach Shahnaz Sheikh blamed the management and Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for a lack of planning. "It was shocking to see Pakistan lose like this," Sheikh said.
"At this same ground we beat India 7-1 in 1982 and this time we lost in a shameful manner, for which the blame goes to those at the helm." Sheikh said the team lost the match in the first 20 minutes. "India launched a relentless attack and scored four goals in the first 20 minutes, which left our team bewildered," said Sheikh, famous for his dodges and dribbling during his illustrious career.
"The president of PHF, chief selector and team coach were on different lines before the Games, so it was not difficult to imagine what would happen to the team. "Finishing 12th and last in the World Cup earlier this year was the first tsunami in Pakistan hockey, Sunday's was the second and if this slide is not stopped then, God forbid, more disasters will come in Pakistan hockey," said Sheikh.
Pakistan, three time Olympic and four time world champions, have slid at the international level, finishing a worst-ever eighth in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and 12th at the World Cup in February-March this year. In May, Pakistan appointed Dutchman Michel Van den Heuvel as team coach in a bid to meet the European and Australian challenge.
Sheikh demanded changes in the PHF. "I request the prime minister and president to save national hockey through some serious steps, which includes removing the PHF set-up, which is not competent enough to run the sport," he said. Former captain Shahbaz Ahmed said Van den Heuvel would not be able to solve Pakistan's problems. "When I played league hockey in the Netherlands, I found him an ordinary coach and I told the club's president that if he (Van den Heuvel) remains the coach then we will not be able to win any trophy."
Ahmed said PHF top officials were prone to making excuses for poor performances. "When they flopped in the World Cup they sacked coach Shahid Ali Khan and now they will make another excuse," said Ahmed. Another former star Mansoor Ahmed said Pakistan lacked confidence. "A vociferous crowd was the difference for me," said Ahmed of the 19,000 strong crowd that backed the home team on Sunday. "Moreover our Dutch coach couldn't understand the tempo of an Indo-Pak match, which is always very fast. "We were badly let down."