Stunned Pakistan harps on reviving subcontinent hockey
A stunned Pakistani hockey community reacted to India's shock failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics with fears that it could herald a crisis in the subcontinent.
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist India will miss out the quadrennial mega event for the first time after eight decades following its 0-2 loss to Britain in the final of pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Santiago.
Former Pakistan captain and Olympian Hanif Khan said Pakistan should learn a lesson from India's ouster which he felt was because of abandoning their style of game.
"The future looks very bleak for sub-continental hockey and officials in both the countries need to blame themselves for hiring foreign coaches and adopting new playing patterns which don't work with our players," Hanif told PTI.
He said if Pakistan and India had only increased the number of synthetic surfaces in their countries and started having tournaments from school and club level on such surfaces they would not be facing such shock defeats.
Olympian and former captain Hasan Sardar echoed the same view and advised the Indians to stick to the sub-continental style.
"There is nothing wrong with our style of hockey. We are facing problems because we are caught between the devil and the deep sea. Our players are not used to the European style of hockey," he said.
Sardar, who was also a national selector, said Pakistan and India who once ruled the hockey world needed to sit down together and find ways and means of keeping the sport alive in their countries and increasing the talent base.
An official of the Pakistan Hockey Federation said India's failure to make it to the Olympic Games had come as a complete surprise.
"We know hockey has been going through a tough time in Pakistan and India, but we were not expecting this.
"But we (Pakistan) also have to be careful as we are also facing problems with finding the right combination and players with the right attitude for the national team," he said.
Pakistan has also not won a major title since 1994 when they lifted the World Cup in Sydney.
Former goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed, however, pitched for appointing professional foreign coaches and giving them plenty of time to bring results.
"The bottomline is that not enough good talents are coming up. In the past, Pakistan and India both were boosted by outstanding individual players," he said.