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Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Monday, 11 October 2010 13:27 UK

Former Pakistan hockey stars slam loss to India

India seal hockey win over Pakistan

Tom Burridge reports on Pakistan's defeat by India

A host of former Pakistan hockey stars have criticised the team's management after their humiliating defeat by arch-rivals India at the Commonwealth Games.

India beat Pakistan 7-4 in front of a capacity 19,000 crowd to secure a semi-final spot while Pakistan must face a play-off for fifth place.

Former player and coach Shahnaz Sheikh was critical of the team's approach.

"This time we lost in a shameful manner, for which the blame goes to those at the helm," said Sheikh.

Pakistan are one of world hockey's sleeping giants with three Olympic titles to their name but they have not won a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup in Sydney.

In response to the perceived humiliation of coming last in this year's World Cup, several senior players resigned and Dutchman Michel Van den Heuvel was appointed team coach.

Michel Van den Heuvel
Coach Michel Van den Heuvel has been singled out for criticism

Sheikh, however, is distinctly unimpressed by the new strategy employed by the Pakistan Hockey Federation, which manages the national team.

"It was shocking to see Pakistan lose like this," he stated. "The president of PHF, chief selector and team coach were on different lines before the Games, so it was not difficult to imagine what would happen to the team.

"Finishing 12th and last in the World Cup earlier this year was the first tsunami in Pakistan hockey, Sunday's was the second and if this slide is not stopped then, God forbid, more disasters will come in Pakistan hockey," added Sheikh.

Former captain Shahbaz Ahmed was especially critical of PHF top officials for their blasé approach to defeat.

"When they flopped in the World Cup they sacked coach Shahid Ali Khan and now they will make another excuse," said Ahmed.

He went on to voice his concern about Van den Heuvel's ability as a coach to reverse Pakistan's poor fortunes.

"When I played league hockey in the Netherlands, I found him an ordinary coach and I told the club's president that if he remains the coach then we will not be able to win any trophy," stated Ahmed.

Another former star Mansoor Ahmed also singled out Van den Heuvel for criticism.

"Our Dutch coach couldn't understand the tempo of an Indo-Pak match, which is always very fast. We were badly let down," said Ahmed.

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see also
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