Thursday, March 18, 2010


Pakistan’s hockey chiefs are mulling over the option of pulling out of a couple of international tournaments because of growing uncertainty hovering over the sport in the country following the Greenshirts’ last-place finish in the World Cup last week.

Asif Bajwa, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary, told ‘The News’ that there is a possibility that the PHF might withdraw the national team from any upcoming international tournaments because of the prevailing situation in Pakistan hockey.

“Currently, we don’t have any team management, national selectors while our players have decided to retire because of what happened in the World Cup,” said Bajwa, who was sacked as the team manager and is now under pressure from various quarters to resign as PHF secretary as well because of his team’s catastrophic World Cup campaign.

“That is why it is a possibility that we might pull out of any international event in the near future,” he added.

However, Bajwa said that the final decision on it will be taken by the PHF think-tank that will be meeting within the next few days.

“I will be meeting with the PHF president (Qasim Zia) tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the situation,” he said. “Our think-tank will also be meeting soon after which we would decide about our future plans,” said Bajwa, a former Olympian.

Pakistan were almost certain to pull their team out of the inaugural Asian Champions Challenge which was supposed to take place in the Malaysian city of Ipoh next month. However, the tournament has been postponed because some of the competing teams including Asian champions Korea were reluctant to feature in it just weeks after the World Cup.

Pakistan’s next international assignment is the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup — also to be held in Ipoh — in May but there is a possibility that the PHF might opt to pull its team out of the event.

Bajwa said that the PHF’s executive board will be meeting soon to chalk out steps to help the national team bounce back after the World Cup debacle.

Pakistan, record four-time champions, stumbled to a disastrous 12th position in the World Cup following defeats against old rivals India, England, Australia and minnows South Africa and Canada.

The national team’s embarrassingly poor showing in Delhi has thrown Pakistan hockey into a major turmoil during a year when they are to launch a campaign to regain the Asian Games crown in China this November.

Pakistan are also supposed to feature in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.

“We are passing through a tough phase but hopefully Pakistan hockey will bounce back,” said Bajwa.