The performance of Pakistan’s national senior and junior hockey teams has shockingly declined under the present PHF setup, but there is a chance for the unsuccessful federation to make up for its mistakes next month when the Junior World Cup is held in New Delhi.
The prestigious tournament is Pakistan’s biggest international assignment this year and a forceful showing in it will be a huge morale-booster for national hockey which suffered a huge setback earlier this year when the senior team failed to make the cut for the World Cup for the first time in History.
Ask Tahir Zaman, Pakistan senior hockey team coach and consultant, and he will tell you that our hockey chiefs are pinning their hopes in the youth team.
“In the backdrop of being unable to qualify for the World Cup 2014, the next month’s Junior Hockey World Cup has a lot of significance for us,” Tahir Zaman told ‘The News on Sunday’ in an interview.
This year’s Junior Hockey World Cup will run from December 6-15 in the Indian capital where the top sixteen teams will be seen in action.
“A good performance in the tournament by the national junior team will certainly give us hope, boost morale of the players and restore the faith of hockey fans in the national sport,” the former Olympian added.
The federation has been planning to organise a few matches with the national senior side to give some tough experience to the colts before they enter the important tournament across the border. “We are planning to organise matches with the senior team. The idea is that we will field the senior team emulating our pool opponents, who are Egypt, Germany and Belgium. This way our colts will be able to learn how to beat teams in different formations,” Tahir explained.
Junior team coach Manzoorul-Hassan has already said that the tough Pool A has forced them to plan deeply and the team officials are looking to prepare the team for the first round challenge from the pool teams. It seems as if the federation is making efforts to atone for its below par performance during its whole tenure so far. However, only the time will tell whether the colts were well prepared for the event.
The federation made history for all the wrong reasons in World Cups. Under the present setup, Pakistan senior team for the first time came 12th in the 12-Nation World Cup in 2010. The Greenshirts then failed to even qualify for the World Cup 2014. However, some good performances from the national colts during the next month’s assignment could provide the outgoing PHF officials something to silence to their critics.
A positive performance in the tournament from colts would encourage the hockey officials to start work on the senior team from scratch by inducting young blood. After years of failure, it is time that our national game takes concrete efforts to regain its rightful place in the world of hockey.