Asia Cup failure


This year’s Asia Hockey Cup was pivotal for Pakistan hockey. However, hopes have faltered as Pakistan even failed to reach the super four stage of the tournament. The first match against India, the archrivals, finished in a nail biting 1-1 draw after Pakistan scored a last-minute penalty corner equaliser. In the second match, Pakistan trashed the low-ranking Indonesia team, registering a 13-0 victory. The third and most important one against Japan however ended in a 2-3 loss after two goals scored by Pakistan were disallowed.

Even though Pakistan put up a reasonable fight overall, poor finishing led to their downfall. The team still had a chance of making it to the semis had India not desecrated Indonesia by the 16-goal margin to qualify, based on goal difference. Regrettably, this also means that we have failed to qualify for the prestigious World Cup scheduled in January 2023 in India. A team that was once at the apex of international hockey — having won three Olympic gold medals, four World Cups, eight Asiad gold medals and three Champions Trophies — is now struggling to even qualify for these top-notch tournaments. Years of negligence and corruption cannot be rectified unless prudent long-lasting efforts are taken at the grassroots level.

The disappointing situation calls upon the government and the hockey federation to focus on efforts for revival of the national sport. We have no dearth of legends whose active involvement can help a great deal in the development process. But most importantly, adequate funding and facilities should be provided. One only needs to look across the border to India to see how they have revolutionised their sports scene. By garnering support and gaining sponsors, authorities in Pakistan can work towards starting a hockey league to promote the sport at the national level and scout out young talent. A comprehensive effort is need if we want to see Pakistan hockey regain its lost glory.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2022.

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