LAHORE - Former Olympians lauded Pakistan’s victory against the Netherlands in the Champions Trophy event being played in India and hoped that it would not only open new avenues for the development and progress of the national game but also convince the government and sponsors to come forward to support it.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Rana Mujahid said though he was sad with Pakistan’s three straight defeats in the Champions Trophy but the win against Netherlands, a European team, had not only enhanced the players’ confidence but also raised hopes that the game of hockey was on the road to progress.

He said the boys had not played against a European team in last one and half year which was a huge gap and the win against the Netherlands had enhanced their confidence. Rana added that the players played for their country ignoring all negative thoughts for which they deserved a big applaud.

Chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui said the players were demoralised because of three back-to-back defeats but the win against Netherlands, which stood second in the last edition, was a moral boosting victory and it would help them in the semifinal. Islah said the present team was the best available talent in the country and he thanked Almighty Allah for giving mental strength to the boys to bounce back in a spirited way at a right time. “The credit goes to the boys who proved their love for the country and played as a team to beat their superior opponents,” the chief selector said.

Olympian Samiullah Khan said nobody had expected green-shirts to suffer three straight defeats in the Champions Trophy; particularly the defeat against England had saddened hockey fans at home. “There was a huge challenge and task before them and to bounce back against a superior European team in the quarterfinal was a marvelous success of team work. “The boys played against a European side after a long gap but still they demonstrated their skill and art in a match, which was played amid do and die situation,” he said.

Olympian Anjum Saeed said the victory against Netherlands had proved that the present management of the PHF, under its president Olympian Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry and secretary Rana Mujahid, is striving hard to put the game of hockey on the right track. He appealed to the potential sponsors to come forward to support the national game and assured them that with their generous encouragement the players would bring more positive results in the international hockey.

Olympian Iftikhar Syed also said the present day hockey had become an expensive game which can’t be flourished without government support. He added that the victory was enough to convince the government and the sponsors to come forward to support the national game. “With this victory we are hopeful that the boys would bring back their lost glory in the international hockey,” he hoped.