Two World Cups, three Asian Games gold medals in a row and the inaugural Champions Trophy triumph in 1978 define the resume of Islahuddin Siddique, who played during Pakistan hockey’s Golden Era, from 1967 to 1979. Player, captain, manager, coach and commentator – he has donned all the hats. The 70-year-old is now Pakistan chief selector.
In an interview during the World Cup, the Meerut-born discusses India-Pakistan hockey and much more. Excerpts:
Indian hockey is up but Pakistan is struggling…
India are playing very good hockey, they’ve been working on it for years. There is lot of support from government and there is lot of money in Indian sports. Our team is in a rebuilding process and we’re trying to get the winning combination. We’ve tested many players. There is potential. Pakistan will take some more time after which they’ll be a different team.
Does India or Pakistan need foreign coaches?
I don’t think so. There are many big players and coaches in India and Pakistan. The only thing is you should give domestic coaches the same terms you would give a foreigner. Of course, accountability should be there. If need be, bring in a physical trainer who knows the latest theories, technology and science. Earlier, India and Pakistan had their own trainers and coaches and most victories came under them. Most importantly, a domestic coach reduces the communication gap. They should know how to make the team put in the effort and utilise their potential.
European experts say Asian hockey still about individual skill…
Hockey is not an individual game. The ball travels faster than the player, so make the ball travel, not yourself. Secondly, what was the Asian style? It was the 5-3-2-1 formation because offence is the best form of defence. When five forwards attack together, the opponent will get rattled. Add to it the perfection we had — all five forwards were scorers. Now only one or two scores. Who is at fault? We have to improve our shooting and scoring, make it perfect. Earlier, Ajit Pal Singh, Surjit Singh, Aslam Sher Khan, they had perfection in their play because of their training. Earlier, teams used to harp on not giving India penalty corners, knowing they would convert. So, it is us who have fallen behind. We have to make ourselves perfect, whether it is our forwards, penalty corners, shootouts, stopping, passing accurately. The European accuracy and hitting is better. If we control it, we’ll become better.
Who are the favourites for the World Cup?
It is still anybody’s game. It’s too early to say. Germany, Holland, Australia, India, Belgium, Argentina, all are playing good hockey.
Should India and Pakistan play regularly?
Yes, bilateral series should happen. Whether in India, Pakistan or neutral territory, it doesn’t matter. If they’re playing, they’ll get better. Like every weekend Germany, Spain, England, Holland and Belgium play against each other. Even their clubs play against each other all the time out of which 6-7 play for the national team. There’s no loss in it, only gain. People on both sides want to see hockey and cricket between India and Pakistan.
First Published: Dec 11, 2018 16:48 IST
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