Interim coach Mohammed Saqlain says we need to get rid of ‘Black Sheep’ in PHF for Pakistani hockey revival

Saqlain said the current Pakistani team is a young team and players need more playing time to get to the top and maintain consistency.

to behavePakistani Ammad Mohammed celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the 5/6 Asian Champions Cup 2023 hockey match between Pakistan and China at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai, Friday, August 11, 2023. (PTI Photo)

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Pakistan’s interim coach Mohammed Saqlain on Friday blamed the national federation for the sad state of hockey in the country and said the hour was necessary to get rid of the “Black Sheep” for the survival of the game. come back home.

Just like its neighbor India, Pakistan has a rich history of hockey, winning three golds, four world titles and eight Olympic medals, including eight Asian Games crowns.

But the plight of Pakistani hockey has worsened since 2010, when the country won its last major gold medal at the Gunagzhou Asian Games. Since then, the country has failed to qualify for the Olympics and World Cup.

“PHF can definitely do better, otherwise it will be difficult for Pakistani hockey to survive like this. I was talking to Dilip Tirkey (Indian Hockey president) the other night and when he gave me an account of the money invested in Indian hockey, I lost the account. Saqlain said his team beat China 6-1 here. “When you invest so much, you are absolutely confident that you will get results,” he said after finishing fifth in the Asian Champions Cup.

“Our team played competitive hockey eight months later and it’s hard to survive in international hockey like this. We need to get rid of the Black Sheeps in PHF.” Saqlain also thinks that he is only criticizing the players and that the team will not benefit Pakistani hockey.

“Also, critics of the team should think twice before doing this, especially when the team is playing an important tournament like this. It’s never wise to upset these young players in the middle of a game.” When asked about what he was discussing with HI Chairman Tirkey, Saqlain said he had asked the former India captain to revive the Indo-Pak dual hockey streak, and also to allow Pakistani players to play in the soon-to-be-resurrected Indian Hockey League.

“Tirkey sounded very positive and was a very generous and helpful man, especially when it came to the actors. I asked him to revive the India-Pakistan series and also to host our players in the league (HIL) held here.

Playing in the league only benefits our players. Broken ties need to be reunited,” he said.

Saqlain said the current Pakistani team is a young team and players need more playing time to get to the top and maintain consistency.

“The team is very young. But if we keep playing like this, they will gain enough experience and continue to get better. As you can see, they are getting better every game,” he said. “It’s only been a month and a half since I’ve coached this side. But we surprised everyone. Together with India, we were the most penetrating into the opponent’s penalty area and we also took the shortest corners.” Pakistan suffered a brutal 0-4 loss to its arch-rival India on Wednesday.

Pakistan will be on the set of the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China next month, and Saqlain pointed to three to four areas of improvement ahead of the continental show.

“First of all, we have to improve our physical condition. Second, our defense in penalty corners is still shaky. Also finishing has been a longstanding issue for Pakistani hockey. We have to work on our basic structure as well,” he said.

First published: 11-08-2023, 22:03 IST

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