Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pakistan can't afford to lose...

Born in Faisalabad, Pakistani hockey player Shahbaz Ahmed is one of the best forwards ever. He led his national team to the World Cup in 1994.

By Imran Ali Teepu

ISLAMABAD: Disqualification in the upcoming hockey World Cup 2010 qualifying round has the potential to ‘jeopardise’ hockey as a sport in Pakistan for years to come, said Shahbaz Ahmed Senior.
Speaking to Dawn on Wednesday, Pakistan’s hockey great said: ‘It all depends on the seriousness of the hockey players therefore they should play as if they are playing the World Cup and must clear the qualifying round.’
Pakistan will feature in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers in Lille, France, from Oct 31 to Nov 8.
The green shirts will test their mettle against 14th ranked Japan, 17th France, 22nd Poland, 23rd Russia and 26th Italy, thus having mere chances to confirm a berth for the prestigious event slated to be held in India.
‘Pakistan should not take it easy as it looks right now because the fitness of the national players is not so good and clearing the qualifying round will largely depend on the commitment, discipline and physical fitness of the players,’ said Shahbaz, who was among the most-capped Pakistanis with 304 caps in international field hockey.
‘Failing to clear the qualifying round will endanger the future of hockey in Pakistan,’ said the former captain.
While answering a question, Shahbaz pointed out: ‘It is not the responsibility of the Pakistan Hockey Federation to build up the motion for the qualifiers instead it depends more on the senior players.’
Shahbaz asserted: ‘It’s the job of the captain to lead the team right from the first whistle of the game and encourage the senior players to play like a team with a unity factor in mind while the seniors should assist the junior players.’
‘As a former captain I had played my role in the past stressing on the need of team effort and worked out a strategy to win crucial fixtures at several international tournaments,’ he said.
The former forward was of the view that the national team during its upcoming important assignment should play with added spirit, unity and discipline while the seniors must buck-up the juniors as this would be a key factor for winning.