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World Cup 2018: Welcome Pakistan (8/27/2017)
--K. Arumugam
Welcome Pakistan. The news that Pakistan, presenter of the beautiful World Cup trophy, has earned a berth for the 16-team Odisha World Cup 2008, is sweet, and welcome.

The vibrant hockey nation has lost its moorings in the recent past due to many factors, but a single match victory in the London Hockey World Cup has ensured its passage to India, as things turned out in its way in Euro Championships.

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India and Pakistan on hockey front is facing troubles, but the presence of Pakistan in the Odissa mela will enrich the event, not doubt on that.

Its sporting rival India has defeated it badly in London. But the Pak team is not that bad as it is perceived.

A year ago just a goal separated both in the Asian Champions Trophy final. That the team reached the final in an event in which the best six teams of Asia participated in itself is a big feat.

Still a year back in Bhubneswar, Pakistan defeated the hosts in the Champions Trophy semi-final. That the team reached the final in an event in which the world’s eight teams participated is a not a small feat.

Viewing against these two instances, one can easily surmise the London was an aberration.

Therefore, Pakistan will be a team to watch in Odisha.

Pakistan’s problem, apart from administration, it seems is poor base. I don’t think serious effort has been made at grassroots.

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They churn around 50 to 60 players and that is a woeful number for a nation.

Pakistan players may be a skillful lot, but modern hockey demands extreme fitness first. Serious thought and action on fitness front is missing in Pakistan’s scheme of things.

We cannot qualify for the Olympics eating kajur (date fruits) and ….” Said former Pakistan captain Mohd. Imran. It conveys the state of affairs of elite program in the country and its conservatism.

Imran said so on dejection when his team failed to qualify for the last Olympic number.

Pakistan has to shed its age-old mindset, and should not hesitate to import brains.

They can take a cue from India or Malaysia in this respect. This will happen if only their former players would stop living in ‘their’ times even now.

A World XI cricket event will happen in Pakistan, the International Cricket Council has recently announced so. If it will be successful then Pak hockey can also expect nations willing to tour.

Good augury for Pakistan hockey, and their prospects will be keenly watched by the hockey world.

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