Thursday, 16 August 2012
By Muhammad Asif Khan
KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey team’s performance in the recently concluded Olympics in London has broadened the already existing gap between former Hockey stars even further. In the meantime the debate on team’s selection for the mega event got stimulated yet again when the discarded Goalkeeper Salman Akbar opened a new front against former goalies – Shahid Ali Khan and Ahmed Alam. In his latest column for Dawn (http://dawn.com/2012/08/14/how-the-national-game-can-be-saved/), the veteran goal-keeper – playing club hockey in Holland – questioned the coaching techniques being used by Pakistan’s goal-keeping coaches at junior and senior levels. He wrote that they were not aware of the modern techniques so they forced keepers to adopt the old styles which were now irrelevant.
On the other hand, while dismissing Akbar’s observations, Shahid Ali Khan said that with this very technique he had produced quality Goal-keepers over the years, which includes Salman Akbar as well. On Salman Akbar’s performance in the training camp, Shahid Ali Khan minced no words in terming it below-par. He also admitted that he was not in favour of calling him (Salman) from Holland.
“In comparison with Imran Shah and Imran Butt, the performance of Salman Akbar in the training camp was ordinary. Before the mega event, performance of both Imran Shah and Imran Butt was good, and dropping one of them to accommodate Salman Akbar would have been unjust.” said Shahid Ali Khan, while talking to this correspondent.
“I was actually not in favour of calling Salman Akbar from Holland, but the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) wanted to give him (Salman) a chance to prove his metal. Also, even if I was in his favour then the selection committee wouldn’t have picked him because they were not impressed too.” added Shahid Ali Khan.
“With Imran Shah, Pakistan finished 7th, but I feel, if Salman Akbar was there then we probably would have finished last”, said Shahid Ali Khan, who played 135 matches for Pakistan and was considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the game.
Terming the team’s performance as satisfactory during the London Olympics, he said that Pakistan played well above the expectations. “Only two games were bad, and that too were against the top ranking teams. Because of the performance we also qualified for the Champions Trophy. The overall performance was satisfactory”, concludes Shahid Ali Khan.
The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif