Pakistan hockey captain resigns

 Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran on Sunday stepped down after the national team failed to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics Games, following their latest defeat in the World Hockey League to France which left them at the bottom of the points table.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 05, 2015, 21:43 PM IST
Pakistan hockey captain resigns

Karachi: Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran on Sunday stepped down after the national team failed to qualify for next year's Rio Olympics Games, following their latest defeat in the World Hockey League to France which left them at the bottom of the points table.

Imran followed the footsteps of the national selection committee, headed by chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui, which also resigned from their posts after Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

There were also unconfirmed reports from Brussels where Pakistan failed to qualify for the Rio Olympic games that head coach and manager, Shahnaz Sheikh had also tendered his resignation.

In what appeared to be another attempt by the Pakistan Hockey Federation top officials to salvage the situation Imran said in a statement that he was given an absolute autonomy in executing his responsibilities by the federation and he has informed the PHF about his decision.

"Players were given all the necessary facilities but they failed to perform," he said, adding that it is time to allow youngsters to come forward and play their role.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed concern at the hockey team's performance and PHF affairs after Pakistan were beaten by Ireland and squandered their last opportunity to play in the Olympics.

It is for the first time since the 1948 Olympics that Pakistan's hockey team will not feature in the mega-event, a development described by the "The News" newspaper in an editorial today as "The death of hockey."

The spate of resignations appear to have been triggered by the formation of a five-member inquiry committee by the Prime Minister who has given the committee a week to submit a preliminary report with strong indications that an ad-hoc committee will be appointed to run hockey affairs.

The committee that includes former hockey heavyweights Colonel Mudassar Asghar, Shahbaz Ahmed and Khawaja Junaid and is headed by the secretary sports Ejaz Chaudhary will hold its first meeting on Monday. 

Chief selector, Islahuddin Siddiqui while resigning along with member Kamran Ashraf said the team had failed to live up to expectations in the World Hockey League.

"We are hurt and disappointed and we take responsibility and there is now a need for a clean up in hockey in Pakistan. New faces must be given chance to set things right," the former Pakistan captain said.

Two other selectors, Ayaz Mahmood and Khalid Bashir had resigned a day earlier after the defeat to Great Britain in the quarter finals. Mahmood said today that neither he nor Bashir attended the trials in Islamabad to select the national side for the WHL as the PHF didn't send him the air ticket to travel from Karachi. "Obviously they were two or three players who should have been in the team," he said.

Interestingly, the PHF President Akhtar Rasool, secretary Rana Mujahid are yet to step down and are presently in Brussels as is also the former PHF secretary Asif Bajwa who is blamed mainly for the decline in Pakistan hockey during his tenure between 2009 and 2014.

The sports ministry and government auditors are also presently carrying out an audit into the nearly one billion rupees given to the federation as grants by the government in Bajwa's tenure.