Under-fire Pakistan hockey coach Roelant Oltmans will continue to remain at the helm despite critics calling for his head in the aftermath of the national team’s last place finish at the just-concluded Champions Trophy in Breda, Netherlands.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has lend its support to the Dutchman, who is facing severe criticism from former players after Pakistan finished with just a win over Olympic champion Argentina in the final edition of the prestigious six-nation event.
Former international player Zahid Sharif blamed Oltmans for the disappointing performance in the Champions Trophy and even accused him of fixing the round robin match against India.
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“He (Oltmans) has been with the Indian hockey team and the federation for a long time and his decision to withdraw the goalkeeper against India was to fix the match and allow the Indians to win,” Sharif alleged.
Former Olympian and captain Samiullah warned that if performances of the Pakistan team in the Champions Trophy were an indicator, he feared that the national team would even find it hard to beat minnows like Thailand and China in the Asian Games in August.
“I see no improvement in this team at all. We just went from bad to worse. The experiment with handing over all charge to Oltmans and his foreign coaches has not worked at all,” he lamented.
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The PHF, however, has not bothered to take these allegations seriously. PHF officials have expressed overall satisfaction with the performance of the team, although Pakistan won just one out of six matches in the competition.
A PHF official said that Oltmans had been in charge of the team just for four months and in two events, and it would be unfair to judge him on that basis. “There is no going back. Oltmans will remain in charge for the coming Asian Games and World Cup," the official said.
Veteran Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt too backed Oltmans, who has remained back in the Netherlands for a few days. “True we finished last, but we put up good showings against top teams and there are visible signs of improvement in our set-up and thinking now,” Butt said.
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Pakistan’s caretaker government, however, has taken the team’s poor show very seriously and has asked the PHF for a detailed report, and warned that special grants for hockey could be stopped immediately.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani players made a quiet return home from the Netherlands last night amidst growing calls for the sacking of Dutch head coach Oltmans and other support staff.
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