New players let the team down in World Hockey League: head coach

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LAHORE, July 11 (APP): Head coach of the Pakistan hockey team,
former Olympian, Khawaja Muhammad Junaid, has put the blame of team’s dismal
performance in the World Hockey League in England on the
nine new players and their lack of experience.
“The team could not click in the event as majority of the players
were young and even some of them were playing with little international experience,
whereas the other participating teams were very strong
due to the presence of experienced players,” he wrote in his tour
report which he submitted to the Pakistan Hockey Federation and made available to APP,
here on Tuesday.
In the report, the former Pakistan captain narrated how the
inexperienced players failed to handle the pressure situations in
different matches, especially against India twice losing 7-1, 6-1
and their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Canada.
At the same time, the head coach expressed his satisfaction over
team’s qualification for the next year’s World Cup, being played
in India. He said that though Pakistan finished seventh in the
competition, it was a matter of satisfaction for him that the team
qualified for the World Cup.
“The target given to me was to inspire the team to qualify for the World
Cup, which has been achieved and as the head coach, I am very
much contended with it,” he said in the report.
Junaid said it was his first-ever hockey assignment as the head
coach and he did his best to motivate the team, but the lesser
experience on the part of the new players restricted the side from producing encouraging
results.
The team official said that Atif Mushtaq, Abu Bakr, Rana Umair,
Azfar Yaqoob, Nawaz, Ejaz Ahmad and Amjad (goalkeeper) were the
players who had the experience of playing hockey in the tour of
New Zealand and Australia, whereas Mazhar Abbas and Dilber made a
comeback in the national team, though these two players also lacked international
matches experience.
“The fair analysis of the other participating teams reveals that
majority of our players were having 18 to 20 international matches experience,
compared to two hundred or hundred and fifty international matches experience of other
team players,” said Junaid in the report.
The team official was of the view that the new-look Pakistan
team is in the process of rebuilding, and expecting extraordinary results from such a side
is not a fair thought. “What happened in most of the matches was the failure of our
players in crunch situations and their fumbling of chances,” he said and attributed it to
“lack of international experience of the players”.
He said that it was unfortunate that the team lost to archrival India
twice with big margins and also suffered a wide-margin defeat to little known Canada.
“Our performance in these matches was very poor and it was painful to lose to India in
that manner,” he said adding “The margin of defeat should have been narrow, not that
wide.”
Junaid, in the report, also admitted the failure of defenders and
attributed conceding as many as 28 goals in the tournament to team’s
“fragile defence”.
“There is no justification of conceding that high number of goals but
again our defence line failed to guard its area in a needed manner due to lack of
experience of the players,” he said in the report.
In his concluding remarks and suggestions, the team’s head coach called
upon the PHF authorities to arrange for 70 to 80 international matches for the national
senior team prior to its participation in the World Cup.
“We have 550 days left for our preparations for the Cup and it is
imperative that we should start working on war-footing to prepare our
team by exposing our players to that number of international matches,” he said.