Jubilations for the entire nation as the Pakistan Hockey team has made it to the semi-finals of the Paris Olympic Qualifiers. The last time men in green appeared in the Olympics was in Beijing 2008, where they suffered heavy defeats and finished the game in 8th position. The team failed to win the Olympic qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Games and was also absent from the Tokyo 2020 version. Their recent win has opened gates of hope for the green shirts. Here’s a glance at the Pakistan Hockey Team’s journey to the semi-finals.
Paris Olympic Qualifiers
The qualifiers for the Paris Olympics 2024 are currently underway in Muscat, Oman. A total of eight teams, divided into two pools, are part of this tournament. Pool A featured Pakistan, Great Britain, China, and Malaysia. Pool B constitutes Germany, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile. The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the semi-finals.
Pakistan Hockey Team’s Journey to the Semi-Final
Pakistan began its journey against Great Britain (GB) and unfortunately did not get a dream start. The inaugural match saw the men’s hockey team suffer a huge setback of a 1-6 loss. The opponents found the momentum early in the game and found the odds in their favour throughout. They went from 0-2 in the second quarter to 0-4 in the third. Shahid Hannan managed a lone goal in the fourth quarter but Britain’s dominance continued to wreak havoc on Pakistan. GB scored two more goals in the last phase of the game to stamp victory on their name.
Next up they faced China in a crucial game. It was a game of great defences until the third quarter. Pakistan’s Abu Bakr created and snatched a brilliant opportunity in the 42nd minute of the match. Nine minutes later, Abdul Rahman scored his first International goal to give Pakistan a lead of 2-0. Pakistan’s hockey team was able to defend their dominance against the opponents to give Pakistan a much-needed victory.
They were up against Malaysia in a must-win match. A crucial match that saw both teams shed blood, sweat and tears to win it for their side. It ended in a 3-3 draw. Khan Sufyan, Ammad Butt, and Rana Waheed netted for Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sasri Fitri, Abu Kamal, and Ashari Farhan scored goals for Malaysia. The Pakistan Hockey Team’s journey was made possible based on a superior goal average than China after they suffered a heavy 0-6 defeat against Great Britain.
The Semi-Final Agony
The 17th-ranked hockey team entered the semi-finals brimming with confidence. They were up against the mighty Germans. From the beginning to the end, they spoke one language, DOMINANCE. At the end of the second quarter, the opponents were 2-0. Some sense prevailed in the Pakistani side in the third half and they almost got away with a goal twice but remained unlucky. However, their possession was temporary and the Germans responded with two more goals. The men in green failed to capitalize on the last patch of the game and got thumped 0-4. Despite a spirit-crushing loss, there was still hope
One Last Hope, Lost
Pakistan and New Zealand faced each other, for one last fight to gain entrance to the grandeured Paris Games. Green Shirts put up a great fight but fell short, losing to the Kiwis 3-2. This was the end of the Pakistan Hockey team’s journey. Three times Olympic champions, failed to qualify for the Olympics third time in a row. The Last Hope was lost.
But are we allowed to put the blame on the men who put everything out there despite the irregularities that are a constant part of the hockey board? It might seem that this excuse is always ready to wash away any incompetency if there is. However we may not like it, it is the truth at the end of the day. There is no other plausible explanation present. It is pertinent to mention here that the qualifiers were supposed to be staged in Pakistan but were shifted to Muscat when several officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) were suspended by the Pakistan Sports Board.
Until the entire corrupt system at the top is rid of and discarded, Pakistan will always come close to victory but never stand victorious. To put insult to injury, the matches weren’t even broadcasted by the National TV. Such is the state of affairs of our national game.