Karachi, Apr 15: In a revelation that is bound to create a controversy, Asif Bajwa, the recently-sacked Pakistan hockey team manager, has justified the team's deliberate under-performance in a World Cup qualifying league match.
In an interview with the Voice of America (VoA), Bajwa said that the team lost to Poland in Nov 2009 to block hosts France from qualifying.
"Had Pakistan beaten Poland, Pakistan could face host France in the final that Pakistan wanted to avoid as in that case, France could win and would have qualified for the final rounds of the world cup," he said.
"It was part of our planning, we fielded our second string in the match in order to ensure that we faced Japan in the final instead of France," Bajwa added.
The experienced and strong Pakistan team not only lost in the Mar 2010 World Cup held in India but also finished at the bottom of the points table for the first time in the country's history.
The embarrassing debacle in the World Cup led to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) sacking the selection committee and team management. Following this, all the players resigned taking moral responsibility for the poor performance.