London Olympics 2012: Our hockey team did no homework

Published: August 9, 2012
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According to Samiullah, Pakistan hockey team did not have the potential to reach the semi-finals and that is why a complete change in set-up is needed. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the semi-finals wasn’t entirely unexpected — this team doesn’t have the potential to do better than this.

Four years ago in Beijing, this very team, with the same bunch of players, finished eighth. This time again, a similar result is possible. I’d be surprised if people see the development as unexpected but the fact is that our build-up to the Olympics was marred by controversy, confusion and ill-planning.

Seniors didn’t know whether they’d make it to the squad or not before they were slapped with fines. Their inclusion in the team was a last-minute decision and I could not understand Akhtar Rasool’s appointment as head coach. He had little time to prepare and the results are now out for everyone to see.

Similarly Khwaja Junaid has been with the team for the past three years. He has constantly stated that the team has been improving but I don’t know how or where the improvement is taking place. His statements won’t change and Pakistan will keep repeating the blunders and the team will continue to be below-average.

Basically, the team management needs to go. What kind of officials say that their aim is the 2014 World Cup when the Olympics was just around the corner. It’s like they’re mentally preparing fans for a disappointing finish, while also stating we’re confident of doing well.

We did no homework, going into the Olympics and after the team management’s statement that the 2014 World Cup was the target, the players’ morale and spirit also went down. They didn’t feel like doing well in the tournament and barring the opening match against Spain – where Pakistan held them 1-1 – the performance was very ordinary.

Argentina and South Africa were beaten but not without a scare. Great Britain and Australia were the real tests and we all know how the team did against them.

I’d advise the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) management to step down as they haven’t been able to improve the state of the sport. The seniors too, including Sohail Abbas, should be honoured with a reception and shown the door for the sake of improvement.

It’s time that the hockey team undergoes an overhaul and a team comprising young players be made so that it gets time to gel. The immediate results should not matter and the year 2014, when the Asian Games and the World Cup take place, should be set as a target.

We’ve seen the current potential of the team and that’s the maximum that can be utilised from the current lot. It’s time for a change and a massive one.

Samiullah.Khan

Samiullah Khan

A former Pakistan captain and Olympian.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.