RAWALPINDI - Pakistan hockey team head coach/manager Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh has termed the green shirts’ performance in the 17th Asian Games satisfactory.
Talking to The Nation, Shahnaz said: “It was the competition between a team, which is earning Rs 15 million per month, and other team which is getting Rs 1000 daily. There was absolutely no compression between Pakistan hockey team and others, as all the other Asian teams had played a lot of hockey, while we failed to play a single international event or series in last one year or so.”
Shahnaz said: “By the grace of Almighty, the green shirts managed to score 27 goals in six matches for the first time in last many years and conceded only two both against India in the pool and final. We had 53 percent possession in the final, while Indians had 47 percent possession of the ball. We played three quarters excellently, while Indians had only one quarter, the second one, in which they dominated us.”
“I am thankful to the masses for keeping us in their prayers. My players fought gallantly and never tired down even in the dying moments of the match. I had made record 24 substitutes in six matches, which means I used 40 players in every match, none of the others team managed to even come closer to that. It was my utmost commitment to utilize maximum players so that they could get much-needed exposure,” he added.
“Though we lost the final, yet one should appreciate the way the team fought. We have achieve great results in only 100 days of hard work which Indians took two years to achieve.
I am sure with the passage of time, we will be able to remove minor flaws of the players and make them ready for the big events,” he stated.
When asked about four out of five strikers failed to deliver when it mattered the most, Shahnaz rubbished the claim and defended his strike force. “Our strikers never gave up and continued to show fighting spirits. It were strikers who scored 27 goals.”
When asked about why Umar Bhutta was given go ahead to take plenty shoot out in the final, when he failed to score in the semis. “Umar is a very experienced lad and I went with the experience. I stand by Umar, as he is a proven material and will deliver for the country in the days to come.”
“We have learnt three major things from the event. First of all, we have regained that lost touch of not performing on consistent basis. Secondly, our players used to tire down in the later stages of the match and thirdly, when they failed to score, they concede lately. There is always room for improvement, I have chalked out complete strategy for the coming days and people will feel the difference once we restart practice for the uphill task of playing the Olympic qualifiers.
“One more thing I would like to share is people don’t understand one simple thing we had not win matches in the past on plenty shoot outs. Unfortunately, we had to rely on plenty shoot outs against Malaysia, which went in Indian’s favor, as they had the complete recording of the match. They noted down each and every aspect of the match, worked on the plan and they entered the final with just one aim and that was to take the match into plenty shoot outs, in which they were quite successful. Anyhow, we have learnt from the final and will not repeat the same mistake in the next matches,” Shahnaz concluded.