Olympics have begun and this event taking place in London is talk of the town now, and turning into a global phenomena. From Pakistan this year 21 athletes have traveled to London to take part in four different sports.
The biggest part of this squad is team taking part in Men’s Hockey. Realistically speaking there are no hopes attached to the squad to get feel of victory stand, it has been 20 years now that Pakistan has seen what it is like an Olympic medal when last time it won Bronze medal in Barcelona Olympics in 1992. However, the emotions and wishes are with the Hockey team. In Pakistan hockey team has won all three gold medals for the country in Olympics. Other the the gold won in 1960, 1968 and 1984, green shirts also have three silvers and two bronze medals in Olympic hockey.
Today Green Shirts started their practical Olympic journey with match against Spain that ended up in a draw, putting the ranked 8 team Pakistan and ranked 5 team Spain sharing one point each. In first half both the teams were in attacking mode but it ended ‘scoreless’ however the second half started with both sides scoring back to back goals in no time of early second half. Spain utilised its players to produce the seamless attack that many Spanish players are experts of especially, Santiago Freixa, Pablo Amat and Eduard Tubau.
Having a strong attack in the most part of the game but still team Pakistan’s defense failed to counter the signature Spanish back-hand shots in most of the second half and ended up most of the time wasted in defense and hardly get few chances to step forward and attack. Even the attack in second half, after the score was equal, failed to impress. Many chances were missed when there was no centre-forward to ‘receive and convert’ towards the exposed goal. The presence of world’s best drag-flicker and leading goal-scorer – Sohail Abbas in playing side was more of a moral support. As Abbas failed to convert two penalty corners, however while he was in the field the approach of team was much more attacking.
Another big issue with the match was the ‘wanna be’ European style hockey that has been a ‘gift’ to our hockey from our recent Dutch coach that has tempered the Asian style our hockey is famous for or the style that has brought so much gold and fame to our hockey. That is an issue that can be addressed in long term planning, having said that green shirts really need a hybrid strategy to play the coming games where they must show the attack as we saw in first 45 minutes of the game today in more calculated and marked manner along with a very efficient defense to compliment that.
In the end one small advice for the Pakistani (Hockey) fans, being so happy over a tied game shows the motivation level we have towards winning. the match tied team Pakistan lost two points and these points can haunt the team later on in the tournament. There for men in green shirts playing out there and all those fans of green shall wake up, players need to come up with the sprite and supporters shall support them like a winning side should be.