Asian Games, World Cup preparation: Head coach, manager, captain demand funds release

KARACHI: Financial crisis has compelled team manager Olympian Hasan Sardar, head coach Roelant Oltmans and captain Rizwan Akhtar to appeal to the federal government to release funds for PHF to prepare the team for Asian Games. They made these demands while addressing a press conference at Abdul Sattar Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
Pakistan seek direct qualification for the 2020 Olympics with a gold medal in Asian Games 2018.
Sardar said that Pakistan’s preparation was on the right track and the players were confident after playing well against Argentina, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands in the recent Champions Trophy.
The Asian Games are scheduled to be held in Indonesia from August 18 September 2.
There have been reports that the caretaker government has stopped Rs200 million grant of PHF.
“The federal government should realise that this is a turning point for our hockey. The Indian government is providing Rs1 billion annual grant to Indian Hockey Federation and we have to appeal to get Rs200 million,” Sardar said.
He said that after the Asian Games, Pakistan would prepare for the World Cup which is scheduled in India in December. “How will we manage the expenses for the Green-shirts’ preparation, if the federal government does not release funds in time?” he said.
Sardar said that as a former hockey player he believed the Green-shirts were playing well and improving. “What more can you expect? A 13th-ranked team, which had lost 9-1 against Australia, only a few months ago, gave the same team tough fight and lost only by a margin of 2-1! Besides, the team thrashed Olympic champions and World No 2 Argentina 4-1. Then it played a 2-2 draw against World No 3 and European champions Belgium, but lost the match in penalty shootout. These all are signs of improvement,” said the manager.
Sardar admitted that results could have been better if the forward had not missed some open goal chances against Australia and Belgium.
Oltmans said India were winning the match 2-0 but scored more goals because “we took a bold decision and called back the goalkeeper to launch an all-out attack. But unfortunately the decision did not prove successful. But the same decision proved fruitful against Belgium. In sports sometimes your decision is right, sometimes not,” said the head coach.
He added that in some departments he was satisfied with the performance of the players but in some areas there was a gap so he is still honing their skills.
He said that physical fitness of the players was close to international standard.
Captain Rizwan Senior vowed that Pakistan would defeat India in Asian Games and would win the title.
He said that players were getting confident after each match.
Rizwan said that matches against Argentine, Belgium and Australia in Champions Trophy had given the players confidence that they could compete against big teams.

Syed Intikhab Ali -The News