KARACHI: Pakistan are still in with a shout to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Hockey World League semi-final round in London as they followed up their embarrassing 7-1 defeat against arch-rivals India with a 3-1 win over Scotland.
The win was the first for the Greenshirts after losing their first three games; 4-0 to Netherlands, 6-0 to Canada and 7-1 to India.
Pakistan can qualify if Scotland lose to Canada but former skipper Muhammad Imran is not impressed with the team’s showing.
Imran feels the players have not done their homework and seem completely unprepared for the games. “There seems to be no plan and they are just going into the ground with empty minds,” he said. “This is because the management has left the senior players here and taken a team filled with young and inexperienced players to an event of this magnitude.”
Imran further highlighted the importance of this tournament. “It serves as a virtual qualification round for next year’s World Cup,” he told The Express Tribune. “If an event can have such a huge impact on the future of Pakistan hockey then they should have taken experienced players for it. Dropping players like Muhammad Irfan, Touseeq Arshad, Muhammad Waqas Sharif and Shafqat Rasool is total injustice.”
He added that the players who have been dropped were playing with the team for a long time and had toured with the side on several occasions, meaning they knew what it takes to win against the best teams in the world.
“Young players are unable to handle the pressure that comes with competing against such teams and playing in a tournament of this size,” he added.
Imran also feels the bench players are not up par. “We have been facing this problem for a while now that our bench is not strong enough,” he said. “All of Pakistan’s 16 players are not of the same quality and that makes it difficult to use all of them in the tournament. There are a few players who go with the side but they cannot be played for even a minute in such tournaments.”
Imran urged the Greenshirts to go into the quarter-finals with a solid gameplan if they do reach that, with Group A leaders England expected to be their opponents there.
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