KARACHI: Former Pakistan Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh said on Tuesday that the 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Australia at its home soil was not a big deal.
“Playing against the top-ranked international team at its home soil with youngsters in the team would not have been a walk in the park,” Shahnaz, a former Pakistan coach told PPI. “Moreover, we are ranked 14th, so losing to Australia by 6-1 margin is not a big defeat that should be criticized,” he said.
Shahnaz said that Pakistan did well against New Zealand, winning the five-test series 2-1. “New Zealand too is a higher-ranked side. They are ranked 8th and we 14th. So beating them at their own backyard was a big achievement,” Shahnaz said.
However, he said he was disappointed that Pakistan was not invited to Azlan Shah Cup, where the Green-shirts have always featured.
“PHF (Pakistan Hockey Federation) should have done something to avoid the snub. Pakistan hockey cannot be ignored like that. We have a glorious history in the game and people around the world respect us. So I think we must reach out to people in FIH (International Hockey Federation) and others to keep Pakistan hockey alive,” he added.
He said that Pakistan always had cordial relations with Malaysian Hockey Federation and such hostility was not expected. “Azlan Shah Cup would have been an ideal event for Pakistan to prepare for World Cup qualifying round to be held in London in June this year. Playing in a test series is one thing and featuring in a multi-nation tournament quite another. Teams try to put their best in tournaments so the level of competition is higher. Test series only help in polishing game but tournaments teach pressure handling and establishing different combinations against different opponents,” he explained.
There is a common perception in Pakistan that India is behind Pakistan’s virtual excommunication from the sport at the international level and Shahnaz said he also holds the same view. “Since Hockey India (HI) chief Narider Batra has become FIH president, Pakistan has been sidelined from international hockey arena. Many here see thing like this and I also feel the same way,” he said.
He said that to undo this dark spell cast on Pakistan hockey, PHF should reach out to its counterparts around the globe and improve its relations with them. “No one can eliminate us. We have well wishers around the globe.”