PHF, team management under fire after Pakistan`s dismal show

Lahore: The Pakistan Hockey Federation and the team management are under fire after Pakistan finished a disappointing seventh in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy tournament in Auckland, New Zealand.

Statements from the team manager Khawaja Junaid and captain Mohammad Imran that the team had gone to the Champions Trophy to learn and gain experience, besides PHF president Qasim Zia`s comments that he was satisfied with Pakistan`s performance, has forced the hockey community including the former Olympians react angrily.

"This is a bloody joke. They went to a high profile tournament like the Champions Trophy to gain experience. What will happen in the London Olympics? They will give the same excuse then," asked a former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh.

Pakistan suffered defeats against Australia, Germany, England and Spain in the eight-team event, while only managing to beat the Koreans twice to avoid the bottom spot finish in the final standings.

Former Olympians also said that the foreign coach of the team should to be made accountable for the performance.

"He is being paid a royal sum and he needs to be held accountable. The team looked disjoined and ragged during the tournament," former captain Islahuddin said.

The PHF has before the tournament invited many former Olympians to attend a conference to discuss the team`s preparations for the Olympics.

Another Olympian, Samiullah said the reason many of the Olympians had declined the invitation was because it was too late for them to give any suggestions that would help the team.

"Time has been wasted by the PHF and management. We have been saying all along that we will be exposed when we play the stronger European sides," he said.

Qasim Zia, however, insisted that the Champions Trophy would eventually help the team work out its problems and weaknesses and prepare strongly for the Olympics.

"The team has steadily grabbed the top spot in Asia and that is shown by our two victories over Korea. But now we are gradually moving towards improving at the world level and that will take some time."

The PHF is also being accused of playing politics in the team. PHF`s decision to appoint experienced forward Shakeel Abbasi as captain for the tour to Australia and then change him with Mohammad Imran for the Champions Trophy has also come in for criticism.

"This has led to groupism in the team with one group supporting Abbasi, who produced results and led the side well in Australia and the other supporting Imran," a source said.

Khawaja Junaid, the Pakistan manager has also been the target of some stinging criticism.

"He should be ashamed to say things like the team`s performance is satisfactory. How can a seventh position among eight teams be satisfactory? He should be sacked," a senior sports writer, Majid Bhatti said.


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