‘Pakistan Hockey Team Capable of Winning Gold at Asian Games’

Published August 8th, 2018 - 07:14 GMT
Pakistan players celebrate their 2-2 draw against India after their men's field hockey match between India and Pakistan at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 7, 2018.
Pakistan players celebrate their 2-2 draw against India after their men's field hockey match between India and Pakistan at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 7, 2018. Anthony WALLACE / AFP

It may come as a surprise to many that Pakistan International Airline’s Country Manager in Qatar, Khalid Hamid, is a famous former hockey Olympian who was a member of Pakistan’s national hockey team that won the gold medal at Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.

Hamid joined Pakistan’s national carrier in 1989. He worked as a marketing manager in Dubai from 2001 to 2004. Later, he worked as a district manager at Sialkot in Pakistan. During his tenure, Sialkot airport started its operation in 2007. Born in Gujranwala, Hamid arrived in Doha in May 2013 and since then the PIA’s Doha office has achieved many milestones.

Hamid’s career as a professional hockey player before joining the national carrier has been full of laurels and triumphs. He played at the left wing position representing Pakistan from 1981-88 including two Olympics. He also won a gold at the 1985 Asia Cup Champions Trophy. The event was a high-profile International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament where the world’s top 6-7 teams vied for honurs. Hamid made three appearances — in 1983, 1984 and 1988 — and clinched silver medals each time. In recognition of his services to the game of hockey, he was awarded Presidential Medal in 1988 by the government of Pakistan.

He also had stints in coaching. During the Pakistani team’s visit to Japan in 1988, Japanese hockey clubs and youngsters got the benefit of Hamid’s expertise and skills in the game.

Hamid was one of the assistant coaches with the Pakistan national team when they won the Champions Trophy in 1994 in Lahore. During his stay in the UAE, he remained actively engaged in hockey coaching. Since assuming his position at the Doha office in 2013, Hamid has been imparting training to players at different clubs in Qatar.

In an interview with Qatar Tribune, Hamid spoke about his expectations from Pakistan’s national team in the backdrop of its disappointing performance in the World Champions Trophy at Breda, Netherland, in June-July 2018. Pakistan, the winner of the first two editions of the Champions Trophy, finished last in the last edition. Excerpts:

How do you see the role of Pakistan Hockey Federation in supporting the national team?
The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is trying to provide the best facilities to the team. PHF has acquired the services of Roelant Oltmans, one of the most successful hockey coaches in the international arena. He has been given a free hand in all respects. On his recommendations, PHF has hired Daniel Barry, a renowned Australian physical trainer. Moreover, the team was sent to Holland, two weeks prior to the Champions Trophy for training. They received specialized goal keeping and penalty corner training by the famous goal keeper trainer Dennis Van de Pol and the legendary drag-flicker Bram Lomans.

Do you think the PHF’s efforts will bear the results?
I am hopeful that the sincere efforts of the PHF would bear fruit. The next assignment is the Asian Games slated to be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2. In my opinion, Pakistan is capable of winning the Asiad gold. Winning the gold will give Pakistan an automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Don’t you think Pakistan’s national team could have performed better in the World Champions Trophy?
I believe they should have done better and certainly didn’t deserve the wooden spoon. It was Pakistan who had started this event, donated the beautiful trophy and also won the first two editions of the Champions Trophy. All this makes it very disappointing that they finished last in the last edition.

What could be the possible reason for Pakistani team’s poor performance?
I personally think they had the capability to reach the victory stand. In quite a few matches, Pakistan conceded late goals. It depicts poor physical fitness. Weak finishing was another major flaw. With better strategy during certain stages, Pakistan might have earned better results.

How do you see the Pakistan team’s matches with its opponents?
In the opening fixture against India, Pakistan were trailing 0-1 with just six minutes left. At that point, they conceded another goal. The management replaced the goal keeper with an outfield player. The decision backfired as the Indians managed two more goals to win 4-0. It was a demoralising score. Pakistanis had otherwise played well and created more opportunities than the Indians. This ploy of substituting goal keeper with an outfielder in the final phase of the match is usually employed in the knock-out games or in the latter stages of pool/league games when it is a do-or-die situation, not in the first league game.

Pakistan did well in the next encounter vs Australia, the World Champions, going down 1-2 with the winning goal coming in the dying minutes. A little better strategy towards the end would have fetched Pakistan one point.

Holland outplayed Pakistan in the third game 4-0. However, they immediately bounced back with a resounding 4-1 win over Argentina, the Olympic Champions.

In the last league match, Pakistan twice led Belgium but let in two goals in the last quarter to go down 2-4. Then, it was the 5th/6th position play off, also against Belgium. It ended 2-2 in the regular time. Belgium won the penalty shootout.

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