Beijing, Aug 25 (UNI) Pakistan's worst ever showing at the Olympics - they finished a lowly eighth - shows that hockey in the subcontinent is at the terminal stage, opined chief coach Khawaja Zakauddin who has since resigned.
''It was a poor show,'' Zaka said but added that there were several other factors which also contributed to Pakistan's dismal showing.
He was candid enough to admit that the absence of India also robbed the tournament of some excitement but it also showed that Subcontinent hockey no longer evokes that awe for which it was once famous.
Zaka was upset that Pakistan and India does not have any clout in the World Hockey Federation (FIH),''I dare say that Australia and Holland wield more influence in the FIH than the countries from the subcontinent.'' Giving an example, the 72-year-old coach said,''Pakistan was leading 1-0 against Australia till the half-time but then Saqlain and Waqas were shown yellow cards and most of the second half Pakistan played with 10 players and lost the match.'' ''It looked as they did not want Australia to lose, I could not fathom how Waqas was made to sit out for more then 20 minutes, what was the reason and If I start reading meaning I may not be wrong,'' he added.
''Unless Pakistan and India have strong representatives in the FIH, it will be tough for us at this level of competition,'' he opined.
Coming back to the competition and Pakistan's eighth place finish, he said,''Our players lack stamina and speed. This is the bane of hockey in the subcontinent.'' ''I can dare say that players from India and Pakistan are no match to European or Australian players in terms of physical fitness.
Look at Germany, Spain, Holland or Australia. Their players move up and down in lightning speed. If we launch an attack our forwards find at least nine rival defenders but when they launch attack we have only four or five players left to defend.
''This is because most of our players cannot come back so quickly to defend in the case of counter attacks. It will be no exaggeration to say that most of our senior forwards don't even try to rush back to help their other defenders.'' Zaka, who was also the coach of the gold medal winning Pakistan team in the 1984 Olympics, rued the fact that hockey is fast losing popularity in the subcontinent.
''You can not keep hockey alive unless you have dedicated players and in the subcontinent players seemed to be lacking motivation and focus.'' The coach said,''We cannot live on our past glory, we will have to change with the times and when I say we it means India and Pakistan.'' He admitted that the standard of games has gone up in Europe and even the Koreans realised that they can no longer bulldoze their way with hit and run tactics. ''But the problem with us in the subcontinent is that our standard is falling alarmingly fast and I see no concerted effort being made to halt this decline.'' Zaka said he tried his best,''but could not prevent my team finishing eighth and hence I resigned.'' UNI HSB AB SSC1235