Karachi: The Pakistan hockey team, which failed to qualify for next year's Olympic Games after its disappointing show at the Hockey World League Semifinals in Belgium returns home tomorrow amid reports that there was tension among the players during the tournament.
It is learnt that captain Muhammad Imran, who had earlier announced his decision to step down, may make some disclosures on returning home. The disclosures apparently have something to do with the reports that a group seven players had ganged up against the captain and team management and had even refused to start play in the crucial quarterfinal match against Great Britain.
"I don't want to either confirm or deny such reports but yes it is true some of the players were terribly unhappy with their captain, team management and even the Pakistan hockey federation officials for failing to fight for their rights and ensure they got their promised financial benefits," one former team official said.
Surprisingly, the PHF changed the support coaching staff of the team before it left for the Olympic qualifiers. The failure of Pakistan team to qualify for the Olympics and finish at eighth in the HWL Semifinals has resulted in a strong whiplash in the country with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also expressing his concern at the state of affairs in the game and ordering a five member committee to probe into the team's poor show and hockey affairs.
Until now despite repeated calls for them to resign or be sacked by former Olympians and internationals and critics, the PHF President Akhtar Rasool and secretary Rana Mujahid have remained silent on the developments unfolding in hockey. The Prime Minister got into the act after Pakistan also lost their 5th-6th classification match to Ireland and squandered any opportunity left to qualify for the Olympics, the first time the greenshirts will not appear in the multi-sporting showpiece event since 1948.
To make matters worse, Pakistan were also beaten 1-2 by France in the classification match for 7th-8th position. Well informed sources told PTI that there could be fireworks once the team and officials return home and apparently Muhammad Imran has been told to pass the buck on to a group of players for the team's poor show.
"These players however have their own story to tell to the extent that they were not even paid their daily allowances properly and had to turn to Pakistani community in Belgium to bring food for them on daily basis," one source said.
In the aftermath of the hockey debacle the national selection committee headed by Islahuddin Siddiqui has already resigned.