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Pak, India urged to tackle hockey slide together

Former hockey Olympians urged Pakistan and India to join forces to stop their slide from the top and counter a ruthless European onslaught.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 22:16 IST

Former hockey Olympians and fans on Monday urged Pakistan and India to join forces to stop their slide from the top and counter a ruthless European onslaught.

The neighbouring countries should play more matches against each other to raise their standards, former Pakistan captain and coach Islahuddin Siddiqui.

"Pakistan and India need to play at all levels to improve within the Asian style and end the title drought," Siddiqui said.

Germany defeated Australia 4-3 in a pulsating final to win their second successive World Cup title in Monchengladbach, Germany while Spain finished third in the event which saw none of the Asian teams on the podium.

South Korea were the best of the Asian nations, finishing fourth.

Pakistan, three-time Olympic and four-time world champions, were sixth while eight-time Olympic and one-time world champions India were down in 11th.

Pakistan was the last Asian team to win a hockey major when they clinched the 1994 world title in Sydney, Australia.

Siddiqui said Pakistan and India share the same problems.

"Pakistan has produced better results than India but the problems of both the neighbours are the same. They don't know what style to play and if they don't revert to an attacking Asian style they won't go anywhere.

"The 5-3-2-1 formation of Asian style is the best, then physical fitness and deep defense should be improved and if all these three suggestions are heeded there are no reasons why we can't counter the Europeans," said Siddiqui.

He added that India had axed some top players in haste.

"The problem in India was that they left out some senior players before time which left a big void in their hockey," said Siddiqui, who was famous for his runs down the right flank.

Another former Olympian, Mansoor Ahmed, said cricket's popularity and the lack of hockey's professional status on the subcontinent were also factors.

"Hockey countered cricket until 1998 but then cricket's growing popularity badly affected it. A lack of jobs has also kept youngsters away from hockey which still is not a professional sport in Pakistan and India."

"Pakistan and India need to play attacking hockey and there is no harm in having a foreign adviser who can help in countering the Europeans," said Ahmed, regarded as the world's best goal-keeper in the 1990s.

Despite Pakistan's sixth-place finish, fans said they never expected their team to win the title.

"Hockey is losing popularity because everyone wants to watch cricket which has more glamour. We never expected our hockey team to finish among the top teams, our hockey glory was lost a decade ago," said fan Murtaza Hussian.


First Published: Sep 18, 2006 22:16 IST