Harpal Singh Bedi / Bhubaneswar
There seems to be no end to former champions Pakistan’s troubles because of off-field issues, the latest being an inquiry initiated against the team’s assistant coach Danish Kaleem by Hockey India.
On Thursday skipper Muhammad Rizwan Senior, was ruled out of the tournament with a fracture on the little finger of his left leg, and vice-captain Ammad Butt slapped a one match ban , on now Hockey India (HI) has lodged an official complaint with FIH Technical delegate against Danish for breaching security protocol.
HI has approached International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Technical Delegate Christian Deckenbrock against Danish for breaching security protocol and misbehaving with security persons inside the stadium.
Pakistan’s chief coach Tauqeer Ahmad Dar on Friday candidly admitted that things are far from rosy for his side on and off the field ahead of the crucial Pool D match against Netherlands on Sunday.
He said the off-field issues have had an adverse effect on Pakistani players but said they are mentally strong enough to overcome this tough period.
“We are in bad shape mentally. We are focusing on things other than the ground. We are discussing who is going to come because of injury. Our top two are out of the ground.” Dar told reporters after a practice session.
“18 players and 2 are not there. Only 15 left for the match against Holland. It is a major handicap as we are minus 1 tyre of a car against Netherlands, one of the toughest teams in the tournament,” the former Olympian said.
“I think we are here because of mental strength. They played extremely well, more than their ability. Against Malaysia we were in a street fight. Roelant (Oltmans) knew all our players. He knew all their tactics and structure and how they would take penalty corners, individual skills. It was a street fight and luckily we survived.”
Pakistan are currently placed third in Pool D behind Netherlands and table toppers Germany and they need at least a draw against the Dutch to avoid early exit from the tournament.
“Pakistan cannot beat Holland on skill right now or on physical fitness. It is only the mental strength of the boys and the passion for hockey. The difference between their grassroots and our grass roots is like 300 per cent,” Dar said.
“We have talked to the boys what is going on off the field. We have said that you should be fully motivated. The place to take revenge is here. If they play according to their capacity and go beyond it, we can give a tough fight to Holland.”
Talking about off the field issue, he said “The last few days have been very hard. Most energies are being wasted on things other than sports. One of our main players, our skipper has fractured his toe and is out of the tournament. Our vice-captain has been banned by the Technical Delegate, for the reasons we are still not aware We weren’t told of anything. There was no action taken on the ground. No penalty corner was given, and no green card was given,”
“One more enquiry about our coach that has been lodged by Hockey India. A new enquiry every day. Me and Danish sit on the terrace and watch the match. And we communicate with walkie talky to Hasan Sardar (manager) and Rehan Butt (assistant coach). At half time against Malaysia I sent him (Danish) with some notes to Hassan bhai. And when he was coming back, he was stopped by the security and they asked for his accreditation card.
“Unfortunately, he forgot his card at the dressing room but the security people misbehaved with him. Yesterday they (Hockey India) lodged a complaint,” he added.
Dar viewed Ammad Butt’s suspension as completely unfair and said one of Pakistan player too got stitches on his head after being hit by a Malaysian player but no action was initiated against him.
“Hassan Sardar was emailed in the morning that there is a decision pending against Ammad Butt and that he has done something very wrong. He went to the enquiry, but there is no evidence but that is the decision of the Technical Delegate. We have appealed against that and I hope sanity prevails,”
“He was shown a video for just two or three minutes. The video shows nothing. It shows a Pakistani rusher trying to save a PC. A Malaysian forward is trying to score. One of our boys Abu Bakr got stitches because of a stick from a Malaysian boy. But that’s ok. It’s hockey not ping pong.”