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Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) ought to call a meeting of its think tank which was established a couple of months ago to suggest ways and means to once again take Pakistan to the heights it occupied until the early 1990s.

Pakistan hockey team’s recent poor show in a four-nation tournament in Australia should be an eye opener for PHF. The performance of the team was below par. It showed that the management was incapable of producing good results. The players failed to show any significant improvement. The poor show has also led to questions being asked about the selection standards.

PHF changed the national hockey team’s management and the selection committee but the results have not changed. The players performed as poorly as they did in World Hockey League and then in Asia Cup.

The team is to take part in many big events in 2018 such as Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Champions Trophy, and the World Cup. The Asian Games will serve as Olympic qualifying rounds, so PHF will have to take some bold steps to bring Pakistan out of this quagmire.

The appointment of former Olympians as coaches and manager has not worked. It is felt that the appointment of a foreign coach and a physical instructor is required to bring good results.

PHF has established a strong and comprehensive domestic hockey structure in the country and a lot of domestic hockey competitions have been organised, including ranking championships with handsome amounts in prize money. At least four new departmental teams have been established and some closed teams have been revived.

But PHF should not forget that all this will not be appreciated unless the team starts winning at the international level. The team has been unable to catch up even with Asian teams.

The think tank comprises Pakistan’s former greats, including Khwaja Zakauddin, Shahnaz Sheikh, Islahuddin, Manzoor Jr and Qamar Zia. Not a single meeting of the think tank has been held so far.

A World XI will visit Pakistan in January which will provide the spectators an opportunity to see their team in action against foreign players after a very long time. Thus, it will be a good opportunity for PHF to take some decisions to improve the performance of Green-shirts, when they play in front of home spectators. These matches could boost the confidence of the Green-shirts which has been shattered with successive defeats in recent months.

Syed Intikhab Ali – The News