Melbourne: Former captain Waseem Ahmed is not hoping much from Pakistan side at the upcoming hockey World Cup, saying the premature exit of coach Roelant Oltmans will hurt the team badly.
Oltmans, who was also India coach, left the Pakistan shores barely nine month after joining as their head coach, citing lack of suitable circumstances.
“I personally do not expect a lot from Pakistan in this World Cup because they have a difficult pool. They have to beat Malaysia and finish third in pool to play cross over match with other pool. After the sudden resignation of Oltmans it will be more difficult for them,” Waseem said.
Under Oltmans, Pakistan could not do much at CWG, Asian Games and the Champions Trophy but Waseem felt that the team was showing progress. “The timing of his resignation is really bad. He was doing a good job and Pakistan team was improving gradually but he resigned just before Asian Champion trophy and WC. It will definitely hurt Pakistan team,” Waseem said.
The FIH World cup will be held from November 28 to December 16 in Bhubaneshwar, where stadiums were packed during Hockey India League, Hockey World League and Campions Trophy matches.
“WC will be played in India this time and I think India are one of the best hosts. Lot of people are coming to watch the games live, there good media coverage and a lot of sponsors. It makes Hockey really big there,” said Waseem regarded as one of the best left-halves in the World and the most capped player for Pakistan.
“People in India love to watch Pakistani players and as far as my experience is concerned I always enjoyed playing in India where people give so much respect and love that I never felt that I am away from my country. India are surely one of the best places to play hockey,” said the former captain.
Waseem was all praise for the Indian team. “Indian team has improved a lot and they are improving overall which includes Hockey structure there. After Harendra paji took over they are doing great. At the Asian Games they were very unlucky to concede a goal in last minute against Malaysia and were forced to play shootout. Luck was not on their side,” he said .
Waseem is in Australia to play Victoria State Premier league for Saint Khilda club. He is also assistant coach of the club and is also involved with the Victorian Academy. He said apart from playing FIH tournaments, India and Pakistan should also resume bilateral series. “It will also revive the interest in the sport with more sponsors and TV coverage. Pakistan hockey need that very badly,” he said.