Pak hockey team returns home, accorded mixed reception by fans

Lahore: Pakistan hockey squad today returned home from London Olympics to a mixed reception at the Lahore airport with dozens of angry fans greeting them with shouts of "shame shame" while others raised slogans in praise of them.

Pakistan was sent crashing out of Olympics after they were hammered by Australia by seven goals in a pool match to settle for a seventh-place finish.

As the Pakistani players came out of the Allama Iqbal International Airport terminal, they were surprised to see the large crowd waiting for them carrying banners and placards.

On one side, some protesters called out "shame shame" and urged Pakistan officials to resign immediately while on the other side, fans congratulated the players and raised slogans in their favour and of the PHF officials.

At one stage, the shouting match between the two groups went out of hand and security officials, who were present in large heavy numbers at the airport, had to intervene to avert a possible clash.

The players and officials were brought out of the airport terminal building surrounded by security officials.

Captain Sohail Abbas told the media that the team played their best and the seventh-place finish was "satisfactory".

"They had high expectations from us and that is understandable but people must also face reality. I think given our team we did very well to finish seventh and our performance was satisfactory," he said.

Abbas pointed out that except for one match against Australia, the players had really tried hard and could have reached the semifinals.

Head coach Akhtar Rasool also defended the performance of the players.

"They tried their best and won and drew some tough matches we just had one bad day against Australia," Rasool, a former President of the PHF, said.

Former Olympians and critics have called on the PHF President Qasim Zia and Secretary Asif Bajwa to step down immediately and allow new people to make a new beginning in Pakistan hockey.

Pakistan beat South Africa, Argentina and South Korea and drew with Spain but lost to Australia and Great Britain by heavy margins.

Pakistan returned home from the Olympics without a medal as its wild card entries in swimming, athletics and shooting also did not make it beyond the qualifying rounds.