Indiscipline won't be tolerated during WC: Pakistan hockey coach

Last time Pakistan was in India in 2014, two players from its team were suspended for taking off their shirts and making obscene gestures after its victory against the host.

Pakistan hockey captain Imran Muhammad (L) and teammates take their jerseys off as they celebrate their victory over India during the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy semi-final match at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in 2014.   -  AFP

Pakistan hockey coach Hassan Sardar has sounded out a warning to his players, saying indiscipline will not be tolerated during the World Cup in India.

Pakistan players are gearing up to play in India for the first time after the unsavoury incident during the Champions trophy, when they took off their shirts and made obscene gestures after winning their semi-final clash against India.

The FIH had suspended two players — Muhammad Tousiq and Ali Amjad — while Shafqat Rasool was let off with a warning.

Hockey India had ruled out Pakistani players’ participation in future editions of Hockey India League (HIL) after the incident.

“Behavioural aspect is very important for me and I have told the players that there will be straight action if any incident of indiscipline happens. I hope their behaviour will be exemplary this time,” Sardar told PTI  in an interview from Karachi.

“I am told that players were provoked by the spectators otherwise they would not have done that. I am sure my players will not repeat it and will be remembered for their performance. In 2014 also we have had good memories on field when we beat India and Netherlands, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and and 1982 Asiad gold medallist said.

Sardar, who scored a hat trick in Pakistan’s 7—1 win in the Asian Games final in New Delhi in 1982, said that his experience of playing in India has been extraordinary.

“I have very fond memories of playing in India. We beat India in Asiad final in 1982 but the next day when we went for shopping, not a single shopkeeper took money from us. We have got so much love in India and Indian cricketers and hockey players will say the same for Pakistan. We must continue this tradition of mutual love and respect,” he said.

India and Pakistan were declared joint winners in the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat after the final was called off due to heavy rains. There were reports quoting Hassan that Pakistan was willing to play but India denied.

When asked about this, he said that his team wanted to play the final but he never blamed India.

“It’s not like that. I only said that we wanted to play the final against India and I am sure Indians would have been feeling the same. No player in the world would like to see the final getting washed away like this, but realistically play was not possible in such circumstances, said the former captain.

Sardar said India will be among the favourites while Pakistan are also capable of springing surprises in the World Cup.

“India is in good form and reached the final of Champions trophy. They are playing on their home ground which does make a lot of difference. They are practising in Bhubaneshwar and it will also help them, he said.

“We have a tough pool where we will be playing against Netherlands, Malaysia and Germany. We are targeting Germany who have not played international hockey for the last one year. We have beaten Malaysia and can beat Netherlands on our day," said the coach.

He also called for the revival of Indo-Pak bilateral Hockey .

“It will be good for both the countries and the game itself. It will generate interest in the game and new talents can be unearthed,” he said.

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