RAWALPINDI - Pakistan hockey team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh Thursday said that the team moved back into the top 10 of the latest FIH World Rankings released by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) after their outstanding performance in the Champions Trophy Hockey Tournament held in India in December.

The FIH has released the latest FIH World Rankings as of December 2014. These include points awarded following the completion of the Hockey World League round one, the 2014 Champions Trophy and the Champions Challenge events.

In the FIH Men's World Rankings Australia, the Netherlands and Germany retained their top three spots respectively. Below them, England moved up into fourth place and Argentina, whose team includes the recently crowned 2014 FIH Rising Star of the Year, Gonzalo Peillat, moved up to their highest ever ranking (6), ahead of New Zealand. Pakistan moved back into the top 10 at the expense of Spain who dropped one place.

Talking to The Nation, ex-Olympian Shahnaz said: “Only in six-month time, I, along with the help of entire coaching staff, managed to put Pakistan hockey on right track without any international series at all.”

“I have time and again requested to the PHF to arrange at least 30 to 35 international matches before the all-important Olympic qualifier event to be held in Belgium from June 20, but instead China series was called off due to financial reasons. We have not being paid a single penny since onboard and the players are also suffering a lot. I don't know what the PHF is thinking and what will be the future of Pakistan hockey under such circumstances,” Shahnaz questioned.  When asked about participation of Pakistan team in the Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament, Shahnaz replied: “Frankly speaking, I don't know about the exact situation. The PHF doesn't inform me about the decision of not sending the team for the event. It must be asked from the PHF secretary. As far as my knowledge, the event is still on, but I can't tell exactly about the team’s participation in the Azlan Shah.”

The head coach said if he remained at the helm of affairs of the team, he had set the target of taking green shirts to world No 8 by the end of this year and by the end of 2016, it would be among world's top six hockey playing nations. “I can't commit about my future and where it lies under present atmosphere, and I don't know what is being cooked in the PHF’s mind and why the Prime Minister is reluctant to meet the team despite repeated requests for meeting.”

“I once again request Prime Minister Mian M Nawaz Sharif to have some mercy on hockey players and invite them for a meeting or else order shut down of the national game completely as under such gloomy financial conditions, it is almost impossible to further request players to play their hearts out for the sake of the country's pride,” he asserted.

“I am quite amazed that Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) is also not helping our cause. They are not in a mood to release the incentives for the team clearly mentioned in the sports policy as per government rules of playing in the Asian Games and Champions Trophy final. At least, the PSB must have issued that amount, which could have helped the PHF to ease the players’ concerns to some extent and put a new lease of life in them. How could it be possible for me and my staff to take best out of players in the Olympic qualifiers, when the players would be deprived of their due rights,” the ex-Olympians questioned.

“I once again request the prime minister, IPC Minister and PSB Director General to help the PHF and hockey players by releasing grant for them and also to save the national game from complete darkness,” Shahnaz concluded.