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After another heavy defeat, Pakistan envy India’s hockey structure

Pakistan’s hockey took another body blow after Indian pumped in six goals in a placing match of the Hockey World League Semi-Final.

other sports Updated: Jun 24, 2017 20:09 IST
Soumitra Bose
India have inflicted two heavy defeats on Pakistan during the Hockey World League Semi-Finals
India have inflicted two heavy defeats on Pakistan during the Hockey World League Semi-Finals (AP)

Pakistan’s sob story in the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) semi-final continued on Saturday. India routed their arch-rivals 6-1 in another one-sided contest to throw Pakistan’s 2018 World Cup qualification in disarray.

Pakistan coach Khawaja Junaid lamented his team’s lack of experience at the global stage and admitted the sport was passing through a difficult phase in his country.

“Our team is weak and it will take some years to challenge good teams in the world,” Junaid said in a post-match chat at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre here.

Junaid said Pakistan’s crumbling hockey structure was responsible for the London debacle but there was hope.

READ | ‘Cricket’s success can revive dying hockey in Pakistan’

“We must have faith in this team and then build for the future,” Junaid said, adding, “cricket’s charisma is killing hockey’s popularity in Pakistan.”

“Earlier, there were hockey families. The game was passed on from father to son, but that’s not the case anymore. Everyone wants to play cricket,” Junaid, a 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze-medal winner, said.

‘INDIA MORE PRO’

Junaid was not surprised that India have taken big strides in world hockey. “Their structure is very good. India have a professional league and there is a reason why one should play hockey in India. Pakistan have a lot of catching up to do.”

Star Indian striker Akashdeep Singh, who has scored five goals in the HWL semi-final here, said the ‘kick’ of a match against Pakistan has been missing in recent times.

READ| FIH boss Narinder Batra says sorry to Pakistan Hockey Federation

“While credit should go to our defenders for not letting Pakistan a single penalty corner, it is true that the current side is missing senior players who were either good strikers or clever midfielders. We always expect a good contest with Pakistan,” said Akashdeep.

Against Pakistan, India have scored two massive wins – they triumphed 7-1 on June 18 – in less than a week here. Having lost to Malaysia in the quarter-finals, India lifted their morale and game a few notches up against Pakistan.

‘SELFISH PLAY’

India could have ended up with a healthier scoreline, but for some “selfish” play in the last quarter, complained India’s Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans. “The last pass could have been better but this can happen when you are leading 5-0,” he added.

On Sunday, India will clash with Canada for the fifth place and Oltmans said he was expecting a competitive match. India had beaten Canada 3-0 in the group stage.

READ | Hockey World League Semi-Final: India extend Pakistan’s dismal run

“Canada are a good team and they had a close match against England. India need to play good matches to develop our team and my biggest disappointment is that we should have finished higher than where we are,” said Oltmans.

Pakistan play China for the seventh and eighth positions.