Former Pak hockey players demand sacking of PHF officials

Updated: Aug 31, 2013, 22:57 PM IST

Karachi: Former players on Saturday called for the sacking of Pakistan Hockey Federation officials after the country failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in history.

As the beleaguered PHF officials tried to cope with Pakistan hockey`s one of the darkest hours, Olympians and fans have called for immediate changes in the hockey body.

"I don`t understand why the President and Secretary of the PHF are taking so long to resign. What more do we have to bear before they step down or are be sacked?" asked former Olympian and captain Shahnaz Sheikh.

Hockey remains Pakistan`s national game despite cricket overtaking it as the most popular sport in the country.

But yesterday`s loss to South Korea in the semifinals of the Asia Cup ended Pakistan`s chances of qualifying for the marquee event to be played in The Hague, Netherlands.

Pakistan needed to win the Asia Cup title to qualify for the mega event.

"What is heartbreaking is that now all the other top Asian hockey nations like India, Korea and Malaysia are in the World Cup and we are out," Sheikh told PTI.

Former captain and Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed said it was a black day for world hockey that a World Cup would be played without Pakistan.

"I don`t want to get into a blame game but the bottom line is our hockey standards have gone down and the current PHF setup has had five to four years to do their best and they have not taken us forward. So changes must be made now," Ahmed said.

Pakistan won its last major title in 1994 when they lifted the World Cup under Ahmed at Sydney.

Former captain Islahuddin, who was part of two World Cup title wins for Pakistan, said he was appalled at what had happened.

"The warning signs have been there for long now but the PHF officials didn`t pay heed. Changing the coaches all the time and relying on aged senior players all led to this debacle," Islahuddin said, adding that Pakistan has been losing its hockey identity.

"It is a black day for Pakistan hockey and the Prime Minister who is chief patron of the PHF must now intervene and set things right," former Olympian Hanif Khan, who was national team coach until recently, said.

PHF President Qasim Zia and Secretary Asif Bajwa have come under fire from all quarters for the national team`s failure.

In the tenure of the current PHF dispensation, Pakistan hockey has seen the lows of finishing 12th in the 2010 World Cup in India, seventh in the Commonwealth Games 2010, eighth in the 2012 Olympics and seventh in the Azlan Shah and World Hockey league.

The only notable success has come when the team won the 2010 Asian Games in China and the Asian Champions Trophy last year and finished with bronze in the last CT in Australia.