Hockey World Cup 2018: Don't lose hope in Pakistan hockey, former great Islahuddin Siddique says after team's early exit
'I know the fans in Pakistan will be disappointed, but I would like to tell them not to lose hope,' Pak hockey legend Islahuddin Siddique said.
Bhubaneswar: Pakistan's 1978 World Cup-winning captain Islahuddin Siddique has asked his countrymen to stay hopeful for a revival in team's fortunes despite a poor show at the ongoing event.
Pakistan, four-time world champions, crashed out of the tournament in crossovers after losing 5-0 to Olympic silver-medallists Belgium earlier this week. Siddique, who watched the match from the stands, said that the team has talent, and results will come in future.
"I know the fans in Pakistan will be disappointed, but I would like to tell them not to lose hope. There is still hope in Pakistan hockey. Winning and losing are part of the game, and all 16 teams have come here to win. Our boys worked really hard at this World Cup, but other teams were too strong. There can only be one winner. Defeats the stepping stones to success, and there is no need to lose heart. Our boys have talent, and results will follow soon," he said.
Pakistan lost to Germany (1-0) and The Netherlands (5-1), and drew Malaysia (1-1) in the Pool stage. Siddique, a two-time Olympic medallist, said the team was stung by the loss of skipper Rizwan Senior to injury. Rizwan fractured the little finger of his right hand during the match against Malaysia and was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament.
"Rizwan's injury hurt us. There is never a good time to get injured, but his injury happened at the worst possible time for us. He is a key midfielder and the boys look up to him," the two-time Olympic medallist said.
Siddique added that he will offer his suggestions to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) regarding the recovery roadmap of his team, but refused to divulge details about the same.
"Pakistan team is in the rebuilding phase, and it will take some time for us to prepare a good team. Whatever suggestions I have, I will give it to PHF after I land home. But I am hopeful that our future will be bright and we will address our shortcomings.
"Pakistan were competing at the World Cup after a gap of eight years, and to play in pre-quarters while we are still rebuilding is an achievement in itself. The team, however, needs to work on trapping. Our forwards did have their chances, but they missed. Had we scored off those opportunities, our results could have been different. I am hopeful that Pakistan will be in a better position in 2-3 years. The only way out is to work harder and come back stronger," he said.
Pakistan were grouped with Germany, The Netherlands, and Malaysia, with the Dutch advancing to semi-finals after a 2-1 win over hosts India on Thursday.
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