Pakistan has an enviable record in men’s hockey World Cup, winning the crown four times since its inception at Barcelona in 1971, a feat no other hockey playing nation has achieved so far. The journey of success started from the very first edition in the Spanish city where Pakistan reached the top of the ladder to complete a Grand Slam having already won the 1968 Mexico Olympics and the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games.
Pakistan won their second World Cup at Buenos Aires in 1978 and went on to retain the title at Mumbai in 1982 before a hostile crowd at the Wankhede Stadium.
The Mumbai triumph enabled Pakistan to repeat the Grand Slam feat returning with flying colours at the 1982 Delhi Asian Games and culminating by attaining glory at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
The Green Shirts did Pakistan proud again by regaining the World Cup at Sydney in 1994. It’s unfortunate that not only the title has eluded the country since then but it had to skip the last World Cup held at The Hague in 2014
The last quarter-of-a-century has witnessed a lot of ups and downs, an all-time low slump in the world rankings — 13th — due to poor planning, alleged embezzlement of funds by successive Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) officials besides other factors including closure of departmental teams. Pakistan hockey has been in the news since long not for any good work but due to woes. The national game hasn’t witnessed such a gloom in country’s 71-year-old history.
Pakistan’s hockey fraternity has been long demanding that incumbent PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khohar and secretary Shahbaz Ahmed should be made accountable and shown the door.
One has failed to understand as to why the corridor of power in Islamabad has been giving a deaf ear or waiting for yet another debacle in India.
The Sindh government and a private sponsor have come forward to bailout the PHF by doling out handsome funds at the eleventh hour to clear the players’ dues before their departure to India.
The Pakistan hockey crisis has been in the news either for horrifying defeats at the hands of minnows or frequent changes of players, officials and selectors besides putting the onus on the government for not releasing funds.
Under painful scenario has Green Shirts have reached the Indian city of Bhubaneswar where the World Cup takes place from Nov 28 to Dec 16 at Kalinga Stadium.
Thanks to the FIH for raising the number of teams from 12 to 16 that made possible for Pakistan to compete.
Statistics show Holland and Germany have won the World Cup three times apiece followed by Germany twice and India once.
The teams have been drawn into four pools and winner of each pool guarantees a place in quarter-finals.
A word of praise is due for the late retired Air Marshal Nur Khan who conceived the idea and Pakistan donated the trophy. The inaugural edition was supposed to take place in Pakistan but due to political turmoil it was relocated.
All said and done but will Khokhar, Shahbaz and selectors take the responsibility if the Green Shirts fail to rise to the occasion or will they put the blame on the government?