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October 1, 2000
Asian hockey is back in prominence: Islahuddin
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
Pakistan hockey team manager and former World Cup winning captain Islahuddin Siddiqui is aware of the price to pay for failing the sky-high expectations of his country’s hockey lovers. He surely has seen dramatic events unfold in the theatre of intrigue every time the team fails to deliver.
Even as speculations about the fall-out of Pakistan failing to win a medal in the Sydney Olympics are rife in hockey circles, Islahuddin says the fourth place in these Games has a silver lining, which fans back home would take note of.
"The fans back home want us to play well. They are very knowledgeable," he says. "If you play well and still don’t manage to win, these fans understand. They don't mind this scenario.
"But questions are asked if the team returns after playing badly."
Islahuddin said he had promised to play good hockey before the team left for Sydney and he's pleased to say that the boys lived up to that promise.
"We said in Pakistan before we left that we will go and play good hockey and reach the semifinals. We made the semifinals, which we wanted to win and get into the final but lost to South Korea.
"The results don’t always go the way you want but the players must try and give their best. My players have done that.
"Ours is a happy team which will be happier if we win, but we can't win every time."
Enumerating what he thought were the positive aspects emerging from these Olympics, Islahuddin said: "The Pakistan team has shown a lot of improvement after making it to the Games through the Olympic qualifier in Osaka this year.
"The gains have been to make the semi-finals and thereby qualifying for the Champions Trophy and the World Cup."
Islahuddin said Pakistan were always going to play in next year’s Champions Trophy as hosts, but now they had earned a rightful place.
"We have made the Champions Trophy grade again on our own right and not as hosts," he said adding, Asian hockey is coming back into prominence as indicated by the results of the Olympic Games.
"Asian hockey’s sure back in prominence. Look at South Korea making the final," he said. "India too played well but missed out on a semi-final place. All this bodes good for Asian hockey."
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