ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh termed boys’ inefficiency to handle big match pressure behind green shirts loss in the Asian Games men's hockey final against arch-rivals India.

Talking to The Nation, Shahnaz said: “I warned players not to take undue pressure and play normal game, but they looked off color especially in the later stages of the final, anyhow, I am more than satisfied with their performance. The way they played their hearts out is truly remarkable and I am quite confident they will bounce back and that too in style. We will not sit back rather continue to work more hard and try to remove minor flaws to score victories. Now we have set our sights on playing the Olympic qualifiers and book a berth in the most prestigious event.”

Sharing his views, Olympian Samiullah said: “It was the battle between worlds outside top eight teams and Pakistan should have won that event. It was not about the entire event, but it was about three matches, Pakistan played well in the group match against India and won. They just managed to win crucial semifinal against Malaysia because of heroics of goalkeeper Imran Butt but now I will term Imran responsible for the loss in the final, as he failed to live up to the occasion against India. He should have stopped plenty shoot outs, just like his Indian counterpart did.”

“Middle defense didn't provide support to forward line, while the deep defense performance was highly questionable, they failed to clear the ball and passing was also highly questionable. Our team was badly exposed by the Indians. They enter the final with a clear-cut game plan, played fast hockey, which Pakistanis tried to match, but it was badly backfired. They should have adopted their own policy and tried to slow down the pace. Some individual performances were witnessed, but as a team, they failed to deliver.

“Coaching was better, but no game plan was witnessed during the final. I still believe a lot could have been done, the coach should have come up with different game plan, which he mentioned to implement and promised. He had some big surprises in store for the Indians in the final, but unfortunately, all those claims failed to materialize,” Sami concluded.

Sharing his views, Olympian Manzoor-ul-Hasan said that excessive missing was the main reason behind loss in the final while Irfan Senior’s sending off was another blow for the green shirts.

“No one expect to win big matches when four out of five strikers failed to deliver. Abdul Haseem Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Waqas Sharif and Umar Bhutta looked completely off color. I think Umar should have not been asked to take plenty shoot, as he had missed against Malaysia in the previous match. It was battle of nerves, which Pakistani team failed to handle, but I must give credit the way boys played in the entire event,” Manzoor concluded.

Sharing his views, Olympian Rehan Butt termed Pakistan team’s performance right throughout the event as very heartening. “It was a big pressure match, in which boys failed to live up to expectations, but I would give credit to Pakistan team for playing in the final. They were unlucky losing the final on plenty shootouts, but they made us feel proud and given us new hope. I am confident we could turn this team into winning unit,” Rehan concluded.