ISLAMABAD - Former hockey Olympian Samiullah Monday held government responsible for the Pakistan team’s debacle and urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to save the national game from further decline. a

Talking to The Nation, Samiullah, who is also known as flying horse, said: “The results of national team in the World Cup in India are not surprising to anyone and especially to former hockey players, as we were expecting the same. Other top hockey-playing nations had completed their preparations two years back, while at that crucial time, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was running after the government’s grants. How could the government issue finances to the PHF, when they were not providing details of their expenditures.”

He said the PHF should have arranged at least three tours before the World Cup, which is the biggest hockey event. “Every participating nation entered the mega event with full preparations and selected their best lot to brighten their chances of winning it. But the PHF was in a fix and they kept on changing team managements and never bothered on ensuring a long-lasting set up, which could have ensured players prepare well for the mega challenge.”

He said that the way green shirts were playing in the World Cup, they hardly managed to score two goals and remained lucky not to concede more goals against the Germans and also played out 1-1 draw against Malaysia, which gave them lifeline and place in the crossovers against European powerhouse Belgium.

“I feel Pakistan team have 50-50 chances of beating Belgium. If I were the coach, I would have told my players to go and play fearless hockey as we have nothing to lose. The fear of losing has put Pakistan hockey to new lows. Every foreign coach has just tried to change the style of play, rather than ensuring the Asian style, which best suits to Pakistan hockey. They just focused on defensive hockey, which cost Pakistan badly, and no one else but the players suffered badly,” he added.

Samiullah said the current PHF management should have quit yet as they have completely failed to turn the fortunes of national team. They don’t have any vision and direction and instead they kept on changing coaches and team managements, which is good enough to show lack of their vision the direction. The previous government kept on providing massive funds to them, but they couldn’t utilize it well, that’s why the current government is reluctant to provide funds to these incompetent PHF officials.”

He said it is government’s duty to provide jobs to the players, which gave them a sense of satisfaction and help them fully focus on playing in the grounds. But when they don’t have jobs, they will run from post to pillar to earn bread and butter for their families. “The time is high when soon after the World Cup, the government must intervene and send present PHF office-bearers home and appoint technocrat hockey officials, who may chalk out 2020 plan to bring Pakistan hockey out of crisis and help it regain lost glory,” Samiullah concluded.