All the news for Monday 31 December 2018
Another dismal year for Pakistan hockey
2018 proved to be another dismal year for Pakistan hockey. The biggest shock for the national sport of Pakistan was the pathetic performance at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India.
The Men-in-Green made an early exit from the World Cup without registering a single win in the tournament. Their only point came when they held on to a 1-1 draw against Malaysia. They were beaten by Germany and Netherlands, while Belgium thrashed them 5-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals. Belgium were the worthy winners of the World Cup 2018, beating Netherlands in the final in a penalty shootout after both the teams failed to score in regulation time. At all major international events — Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, FIH Champions Trophy and Jakarta Asian Games — Pakistan remained below par without any creditable showing. In all these events, Pakistan failed to match their rivals and were found wanting in almost every aspect of the game. Pakistan’s only consolation was that they were declared joint winners of the Asian Champions Trophy with India after the final was called off as rain came to the Green-Shirts rescue at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, Oman. Malaysia finished third, Japan were fourth, while South Korea finished fifth after beating hosts Oman 3-1. That was the sum of our ‘achievements’ in a sport in which once we were the top dogs in the world.
What more disturbing was that the crippling financial state of the sport struck a killer blow to the country’s national game. It was very unfortunate that the PHF, despite getting hefty government funds, had to beg private parties to fund the national team’s foreign tours. The government, whose priority has never been sports, hardly budged and did not start any probe when the PHF repeatedly pleaded for financial support to ensure participation in international events. After remaining at top of the hockey world for more than three decades, it is lamentable that a country who won Olympic gold thrice, World Cup four times, Asia Cup thrice, Asian Games gold record eight times, Asian Champions Trophy gold twice, FIH Champions Trophy gold thrice and remained unbeatable at regional level for many years are now a lowly team. Due to country’s obsession with cricket these days, Pakistan hockey has been relegated to the background due to incompetent Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) top officials and Pakistan government’s indifferent attitude towards the national sport.
Hassan, Islah join Pakistan Hockey Federation: In January, the Pakistan Hockey Federation named former captain and country’s legendary center-forward Hassan Sardar as new head coach and manager of the hockey team. The announcement came following a Congress meeting of the PHF in Islamabad. Hassan, who was earlier appointed Pakistan’s chief selector, replaced Farhat Khan for the position of head coach and manager. Farhat had earlier resigned as coach citing family commitments. Another former captain, Islahuddin Siddiqui also joined the PHF. He was named as chief selector in place of newly appointed head coach Hassan. Former Olympians Rehan Butt and Mohammad Saqlain were added to the coaching staff of the team. Hassan won gold medal in 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He also won gold medal in the 1982 World Cup where he was declared the man of the tournament for scoring 11 goals.
Dutchman Oltmans becomes new head coach: In February-March, the Pakistan Hockey Federation signed World Cup-winning Dutch trainer Roelant Oltmans as new head coach. Oltmans, 63, was handed a two-year deal by the national federation. Oltmans, who last visited Pakistan in 2004, became the first foreign head coach of Pakistan’s hockey team in eight years. The last time a Dutchman (Michel van den Heuvel) was in charge of the national team, they had ended up winning the 2010 Asian Games gold medal in China.
Pakistan take 7th place at Commonwealth Games in Australia: In April, Pakistan came from behind to defeat Canada 3-1 by taking seventh position in a classification match of the XXI Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Earlier, Pakistan were eliminated from the medals race after they had played four drawn matches. Their matches with Wales, India, England and Malaysia ended with no result. Pakistan won bronze in 2002 and silver medal in 2006 Commonwealth Games.
PHF re-elects controversial president and secretary: In May, controversial Brig (r) Muhammad Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and former Olympian Shahbaz Ahmad Senior were unanimously re-elected as president and secretary general of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, respectively, for a term of four years after the elections of the national federation, which were held in Islamabad. Khawar Anwar Khawaja (Punjab), Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah (Sindh), Muhammad Saeed Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhawa) and Chaudhary Ismail Gujjar (Balochistan) were elected as vice-presidents while Muhammad Ikhlaq Usmani was elected as treasurer, all unopposed. The election process, without any opposition, took place smoothly as expected. It is pertinent to mention here that Khalid and Shahbaz were ‘handed over’ the reins of the PHF in 2015 after Pakistan failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics 2016. The PHF chief patron, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, wanted former Pakistan captain Akhtar Rasool, the then PHF chief, out of his sight for political reasons as well as for some ‘hatred’. And the Olympics failure gave a perfect opportunity not only to the chief executive of the country as well as to Khalid and Shahbaz to grab the lucrative posts. Khalid represented the Pakistan Army hockey team from 1973-84. However he was never able to represent the country. At present he is still working as Managing Director at the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC). Khalid wanted to become the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president but when Salim Saifullah Khan took control of Pakistan tennis he turned his ‘interest’ towards Pakistan hockey. Khalid, a close relative of powerful former Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, had forced his way into Pakistan hockey. Shahbaz, considered among the best forwards in the history of field hockey, played in three Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in 1992. He is the only player in history of hockey to win two consecutive player of the tournament awards in the 1990 World Cup in Lahore and in the 1994 World Cup in Sydney. Despite his excellent services for the national game, Shahbaz, who works for Pakistan International Airlines, was never considered suitable for the coveted post by many. His “intriguing nature” and the revolt he led before the Atlanta Olympics is still fresh in the minds of hockey lovers. On the other hand, Khalid has no leadership qualities, vision, charisma, and the killer instinct that are hallmarks of a good administrator. Like many in this country, he is also obsessed with having two hats. The way he is running and managing Pakistan hockey is anybody’s guess.
Pakistan secure last position in last edition of FIH Champions Trophy: Breda, in Netherlands, hosted the last edition of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Men’s Champions Trophy from June 23 to July 1. The six-team tournament included hosts Holland, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, India and Pakistan. Olympic champions Argentina, World Cup, World League and Champions Trophy winners Australia and the host nation qualified automatically, while the three other nations were invited by the FIH Executive Board. Breda was the final host of the Men’s Champions Trophy, which was controversially axed from the FIH’s competition portfolio along with the Hockey World League to make way for the new Hockey Pro League to be launched in 2019. Pakistan finished last in the event, losing all their matches, except pool match against Argentina 4-1. Pakistan lost their classification match for fifth place against Belgium after penalty shoot-out 2-1.
Jakarta Asian Games debacle: In August, Pakistan’s performance at the Asian Games in Jakarta was very disappointing. The hockey team failed to win a medal, losing in the semi-finals to Japan. By failing to win a gold medal, the hockey team missed out on a chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This disappointing show exposed the level of preparedness of the players. They had four years to train for the event and yet they failed to live up to the nation’s expectations. Japan took the wind out of Pakistan sails when they defeated the former champions 1-0 in the last-four stage, disqualifying the country from reaching the finals. With this humiliating defeat against the minnows, all the tall claims made by the incompetent Pakistan Hockey Federation officials bit the dust. Pakistan had entered the semi-finals as the top team of Group B after beating Thailand, Oman, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. But Pakistan were shocked as Japan came like a bolt from the blue. Later India shattered Pakistan’s hopes for a bronze medal with a 2-1 victory in a classification match for third position. This was India’s third bronze medal in the Asiad while Pakistan finished out of the medal bracket only for the second time in the Asiad, after 2002. Both teams had won all their five pool games with big margins. But they perished in the semifinals. India lost to Malaysia who Pakistan had beaten 4-1 in the pool while Pakistan went down to Japan who India had trounced 8-0.
Oltmans resigns as Pakistan hockey coach: In the third week of September, Pakistan hockey coach Oltmans, who formerly served as the coach of the Indian men’s hockey team, resigned from his post. The move came after Pakistan’s not-so-impressive performance in the prestigious tournaments like 2018 Commonwealth Games and FIH Champions Trophy. Oltmans, in a letter to the Pakistan Hockey Federation, stated that the current circumstances were not so suitable to bring out the best out of the players and that it was not really possible for the PHF to create the required environment for the team to perform well. “I’m responsible for the performance and results of the team. I feel that the circumstances at present do not create an environment where we can get the best out of the team,” Oltman was quoted as saying in his letter to the PHF. “I don’t think the PHF has the possibility to change the circumstances to a level that is required from my point of view,” he added. Under Oltmans, who was appointed as the head coach in January 2018, the Pakistan men’s team failed to produce an impressive performance on the field.
No doubt, in the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful patron’s benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal. Pakistan’s brilliant track record in international hockey since independence has owed much to the dynamic administrative skills of individuals like AIS Dara, Air Marshal Noor Khan, and Air Vice Marshal Farooq Umar. If one analyses carefully the periods of poor performance in Pakistan hockey they are invariably linked with poor management. At present there is much chaos and lack of vision in the PHF, and the chances the national team will sparkle in 2019 seem remote
Tauqeer appointed as head coach for World Cup: The PHF appointed former Olympian Tauqeer Ahmad Dar as head coach of Pakistan for World Cup 2018. The PHF relieved manager Hassan from the additional responsibility which he had to assume after the resignation by Oltmans. Dar was assisted by coaches Rehan Butt and Danish Kaleem.
Miserable World Cup 2018 campaign ends: At the fag end of the year, Pakistan’s miserable campaign at the World Cup finally came to an end after Olympic silver medallists Belgium thrashed the four-time champions 5-0 in the third cross-over match. Starting the match, the Red Lions toyed with the Pakistan defence which somehow managed to hold on in the opening 10 minutes. But once Alexander Hendricks (10th minute) converted a penalty corner, the Pakistan defence broke apart and gates opened up for Belgium. Besides Hendricks, skipper Thomsa Briels (13th), Cedric Charlier (27th), Sebastian Dockier (35th) and Tom Boon (53rd) were the other goal getters for Belgium. The Red Lions, ranked third in the world, came into the match as outright favourites against the world no. 13 Pakistan and they played like champions, dominating the proceedings for major part of the 60 minutes. The four-time winners scrapped through the crossover match on better goal difference after finishing third in the ‘group of death’ Pool D, which also included former champions Germany and Netherlands and Asian Games silver medallists Malaysia.
Disappointed head coach Tauqeer quits: After the World Cup, former Olympian Tauqeer stepped down as head coach of the national hockey team. While talking to the media, Tauqeer said that the team played poor hockey which led them down in the mega event. “Pakistan were not perfect in a single department which is the reason behind their downfall in the mega competition,” he said. Former Olympian said that shutting down hockey was much better than running it in such a way which was harming the past glories achieved by Pakistan in this sport.
Shahbaz Senior resigns as PHF general secretary: PHF secretary general Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, in the last week of December, resigned from his position citing the government’s alleged apathy towards the national sport. Shahbaz, in his resignation, mentioned that since the government and the Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry had no time for hockey than he too can’t spare any. “India’s annual budget for hockey is more than Rs1 billion, whereas the annual grant for hockey in Pakistan is only Rs3.5 million,” the former hockey captain pointed out. Shahbaz said there was no infrastructure for hockey in the country, and that the PHF had no asset or a system in place for the generation of funds. He said that the government had been informed several times but to no avail.
Throughout the year it seemed as if was is not about winning anymore, it was all about losing gracefully and coming up with excuses. Whether or not they are ready to participate in the upcoming tough assignments of 2019, the PHF has surely accumulated a nice list of excuses for face-saving, should the nation question them when they fail at the international assignments. Throughout the year, more often the results had been embarrassing to say the least with the Green-Shirts struggling to win against the second tier teams. A multitude of sins in management, selection and coaching always got covered up through one cliché or the other. Ignored were the slips in the selection and the secretive manipulation that go behind the scenes for personal gains and self-aggrandisment, with constructive criticism always a poor second to the waving of the flag. The statements given by the PHF top officials in the national media after the team’s insipid performances were aimed at to make people believe that the national outfit were doing well, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
No doubt, in the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful patron’s benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal. Pakistan’s brilliant track record in international hockey since independence has owed much to the dynamic administrative skills of individuals like AIS Dara, Air Marshal Noor Khan, and Air Vice Marshal Farooq Umar. If one analyses carefully the periods of poor performance in Pakistan hockey they are invariably linked with poor management. At present there is much chaos and lack of vision in the PHF, and the chances the national team will sparkle in 2019 seem remote.
Building a strong team is not an overnight process and it takes years to put together a balanced side keeping in view the modern approach to competitive international hockey, and the exacting scientific preparations that the international teams now favour. The standard of the game is changing so rapidly that the gap between the best and the second in line has narrowed considerably. In fact, the difference between the four top teams has become so small that whenever any two of them meet it is very difficult to predict the outcome of the game. Pakistan hockey structure lacks in terms of skills and competitiveness. The very base of the game has shrunk beyond belief. Pakistan hockey’s slump is not quite as dramatic or sudden as it now seems to be. It’s been a slow and painful decline that began after 1994.
Not much hope in 2019: No sporting federation is a bed of roses, especially one that carries the aspirations of the nation. One is surprised to observe that the incompetent PHF ignores the fact that only planning promises success. But we are not a nation of sage souls. Rather we indulge in thoughtless decisions. Unfortunately, the technical understanding of issues is always ignored, and it triggers a rot. Since they took over, the present PHF has failed to put hockey back on track and get the desired results. Pakistanis have an emotional connection with hockey; the older generation still talks and recall with great delight the spellbinding achievements of the past. While the present generation only has tales of the past to live on, their love or connection with hockey is only going to be strengthened when they actually see the return of the lost glory.
The need of the hour is to bring Pakistan hockey into line with the rest, best and the latest aspects of modern hockey as the game has changed a lot in recent years. Even the best of players cannot win without strategic strength as all team games need to have excellent pre-emptive and offensive strategies worked out scientifically. And for that we need those persons at the helm of affairs who are thorough professionals with solution to the predicament. Only then the elusive triumphs will replace the current tragedies that demean the team once basking in Olympic golds and world crowns. But with the incompetent people clinging on with the national federation, the future looks not that bright. The year 2018 was not a shining one for Pakistan hockey. And realistically speaking, one should not harbour any hopes of the national team doing any better or revive themselves to their former glory in 2019 with the cronies running the show and incapable officials handling the affairs of the national sport of the country.
The Daily Times
Hockey reduced to a footnote in Indian sports scene
Indian women's team failed at the last hurdle in Jakarta. This is the biggest disappointment of 2018
Many opportunities presented Indian hockey to come up and stay counted in 2018 but it did not grab them. Very sadly, across gender, genre, and age groups, India lost all the seven finals it played this year! Barring an Asian Youth Olympic Qualifier, India’s men and women hockey had no Gold show to gladden the country that keeps eternal hopes on it. An Asian Champions Trophy final was a wash out.
In 2018, Indian athletes rose like a Phoenix from ashes, throwing in their sphere the star sprinters like Hima Das. A battery of Badminton stars knocked out established names and nations to script new sporting chapters, PV Sindhu even winning a World Badminton Series event after so many Silvers.
Most sports other than hockey stole the limelight in both Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
Cricket, as usual won many laurels including U-19 World Cup and the ongoing Test Series wins against the Aussies. Marry Kom won her sixth world boxing title.
Sports is increasingly becoming popular among the masses, corporate spend on sports showing upward trend.
However, the hockey sports that kept India on the global sporting map for long had been bogged down by its own weight and could do nothing to cheer about.
Indian hockey teams, cutting across gender and age group events, did not live up to the expectation, even falling below the standard they maintained in the previous years.
Most significant let down epithet should go to men’s hockey. It was the undisputed champions of Asia till August this year.
At Jakarta, India lost to Malaysia in the semi-finals to forgo its dominance for next four years.
Indian men have won U-18, U-21 and Sr Asia Cups, but they are not the Asian Games champions. Though India is still top ranked Asian team in the FIH hierarchy, its failure at Jakarta put them on the tricky path of qualifying for the next Olympics.
Indian men’s failure actually covered up the another big failure: Women’s defeat in the Asian Games final. Like men, our ladies are also Asia Cup and Asian Champions Trophy holders, but failed at Jakarta in the last hurdle. The fact here is that Indian ladies did not lose to Japan in the last four years, but did so in the final. They are also now precariously placed insofar as Tokyo Olympics is concerned.
India took part in many tournaments this year due to once-in-four-year hectic circle. We saw India in the Commonwealth Games, Champions Trophy, Asian Games, Asian Champions Trophy.
Except inconsequential ACT in Muscat, AYOQ in Bangkok, Indian men failed elsewhere.
Indeed it is surprising India failed at finals or semifinals, showing how the team lacked mental strength to be Champions or Goldies.
Unfortunately, India failed to come out clean in all the three penalty shoot outs that it played this year, one in Oceania, one in Europe and the other at home continent!
Cutting across age group and gender, genre (like Hockey 5s), Indians did not win Gold, save Muscat where finals were cancelled due to heavy rains, in 2018. The below data is disturbing to say the least.
Indian men lose the finals of two 4-Nations in New Zealand
Indian men and women lose the semi-final at Gold Coast
Indian men and women lose the bronze medal match at Gold Coast.
Indian men lose the Champions Trophy final
Indian boys and girls lose the final of Youth Olympics
Indian boys lose the Sultan of Johor Cup final
Indian men lose the semi-finals of Asian Games
India ladies lose the final of Asian Games
Indian men lose the World Cup Quarterfinal
The teams certainly did well to reach the quarterfinal, semifinal or final as the case may be. This is clearly brought out in the above list. However, if one looks minutely as to whom the team lost crucial matches that denied them title win, and in some cases like Gold Coast even consolation medals, the picture is one of pathetic.
It's Malaysia that undid Indian men at both Jakarta and Buenos Aires. It's England that did a Malaysia for both men and women at Gold Coast.
The fact is that India is above both Malaysia and England in FIH Ranking!
Indian hockey had every chance to make amends, as tournaments came calling successively. Most significant one being this month’s World Cup.
Winners of Junior World Cup could not even progress to semifinal in Bhubaneswar.
In all, it appears Indian hockey chokes. It chocked at Hamilton, Johor Bharu, Jakarta, Gold Coast, and lastly at home in Bhubaneswar too.
Indian hockey is fast becoming a footnote in the Indian sports scene despite solid system to stem the rot, and gallons of oxygen pumped in.
MHC in the dark on whether venue will be fit for Hockey Series Finals
By SAIFUL AFFENDY SAPRAN
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are waiting for the Malaysia Stadium Board (MSB) to respond on whether the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil will be fit to host the Hockey Series Finals on April 26-May 4.
Pitch One and Two of the venue are in a deplorable state with the latter even unfit for the P. Alagendra Cup, which starts on Thursday.
MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal hopes to get an immediate feedback from MSB over the status of both pitches.
“Both pitches are in a poor state. What I am more concerned about is the main pitch, which will be used for the Hockey Series Finals.
“We have notified MSB about the pitches and we are now waiting for a reply. An representative from the International Hockey Federation will inspect both pitches soon,” said Subahan.
Subahan, also the deputy president of the FA of Malaysia, said MHC will look for an alternative venue if both pitches are unfit.
“Tun Razak Stadium is one of our options,” he noted.
Subahan admitted that he was disappointed as the new synthetic turfs were laid just over a year ago before the KL Sea Games last August.
“I do not want to play the blame game. We just want MSB to solve the problem as soon as possible.”
New Straits Times