Pakistan’s medal tally in 15 hockey tournaments of the Asian Games is eight gold, three silver and three bronze — hockey was not included in the first two Asiads, in 1951 and 1954.
From 1958 to 1990, Pakistan claimed seven gold and two silver in nine consecutive Asian Games, a remarkable sequence. This included four consecutive golds from 1970 to 1982.
But in the next four Asian games, Pakistan failed to reach even the final. In 1994, 1998 and 2006, Pakistan were third.
In 2002 we failed to climb on to the podium, losing to Malaysia in the bronze medal play-off.
In 2010, the Green-shirts regained the gold after 20 years. The first place also gave them an automatic qualification for the 2012 Olympics.
At the last Asian games, in 2014, Pakistan again managed to reach the final where they met India. Pakistan had defeated India in the pool match. The final was an exciting game between the two traditional rivals. It was 1-1 after the regular time. However, Pakistan went down in the shootout.
Thus, they lost the chance to get an automatic qualification for the Olympics. Eventually, Pakistan failed to qualify for the Olympics — for the first time ever.
This year again, along with the coveted gold there is the added incentive of direct Olympic qualification.
Pakistan’s highest tally in a single tournament is 42 goals in 1990 — with five goals against. Pakistan’s biggest victory is 17-0 against Bangladesh in 1978 which is also the Games record.
Pakistan also created an Asiad record for the final. In the 1982 Asian Games final in New Delhi, Pakistan defeated India 7-1.
Pakistan’s highest scorer in the Asian Games is centre forward Abdul Waheed Khan with 25 goals in two editions, 1962 and 1966. Waheed is also the highest individual scorer in a single event with 17 goals in the 1962 Games.
It is worth mentioning that Waheed’s tally of 17 goals in the 1962 Asiad is also a Pakistan record for a single edition of any of the six big tournaments — the World Cup, Olympics, Asian Games, Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Champions Trophy.
A number of Pakistani players have won three golds in Asian Games hockey. But former speedy winger Islahuddin goes one better. He not only won three golds as player in 1970, 1974 and 1978 (when he captained the side as well), but was also the manager of the victorious 1990 Asiad squad.
Two of Pakistan’s hockey Olympians took part in the Asian Games but not as hockey players. Half-back Shahrukh was a member of Pakistan’s first-ever Olympic hockey team in 1948, which finished fourth. He participated in 1958 Asian Games as a cyclist, winning two medals: silver in 2000 metres tandem race with S M Farooqi and bronze medal in the 1000 metres sprint. That made him Pakistan’s most successful cyclist in the Asian Games history.
Right-out Farooq Khan did just the opposite. Farooq first participated in the 1962 Asian Games as a middle distance runner in athletics. Not winning a medal, he concentrated on hockey ultimately striking a gold medal as a member of Pakistan’s victorious hockey team in the 1968 Olympics at Mexico.
Yet another hockey international, right-out Iftikhar Shah, competed in the 1962 Asian Games athletics in the sprints and long jump. He later appeared for the national hockey team in 1968 internationals against Kenya and Uganda.
Pakistan encountered Thailand four times in Asian Games. In three of those meetings, Pakistan won the matches by scores of 13-0 (1966), 9-0 (1978) and 8-0 (1998).
Surprisingly, on the fourth occasion, in 1970, they were held to a 0-0 draw by the Thai hosts. It was the pre-astroturf era and the overnight rain had made the grassy ground a mud track. It was almost impossible to make the ball travel on the surface. In fact, the ball repeatedly lost shape and had to be changed more than 20 times during the course of the game. Hence the Thai team achieved an astonishing result against the reigning Olympic champions and the eventual winners.
From 1958 to 1982, in the first seven hockey tournaments of the Asian Games, Pakistan lost just one match: the 1966 final against India.
In 1958, against South Korea, Pakistan’s legendary full-back Muneer Dar converted five successive penalty corners into goals — a world record.
Pakistan’s most successful hockey family at the Asian Games is the wingers’ family from Bahawalpur. Mutiullah and his three nephews, the brothers Hidayatullah, Samiullah and Kaleemullah, grabbed a grand total of seven golds and two silvers among them.
Mutiullah won golds in 1958 and 1962. Samiullah won three golds in 1974, 1978 and 1982. His elder brother Hidayatullah is a gold medal winner from 1974. Sami’s younger brother Kaleemullah has a gold from the 1982 Asiad. In addition, Mutiullah and Kaleemullah also have a silver each from the 1966 and 1986 Asian Games, respectively.