Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Pak V Ned Worldcup Hockey Final 1994 (Complete Match)

We all talk, drink, sleep, eat only about cricket. We worship cricketers as Demi Gods on moment, bring them down to dust, the next. Cricket, in Pakistan, is not just a game but a passion. Cricketers are often tainted, disgraced and charged with spot and match fixing allegations, all for the love of the game. But never have we given much importance to the national sport of our country, which was once the pride of Pakistan, Hockey! Recently a television channel aired one of the most famous and epic encounter in hockey, which, although, was a recording but it rekindled our memories. I am referring the Hockey World Cup final, 1994, Sydney, Australia, which was fought out between Pakistan and Holland. It was refreshing to watch the ever wily Shahbaz Ahmed, the then captain of the Pakistan team, his presence always created ripples in the team and the crowd would go berserk once Shahbaz had the ball in his possession. Also present in the very squad were Waseem Feroz, Tahir Zaman, Rana Mujahid, Khwaja Junaid and last but not the least the lanky 24 year old Asif Bajwa, currently the Secretary of Pakistan Hockey Federation. Holland, too, were served by players of the class of Marc Delison, their captain and Floris Jan Bovelander, the masterly penalty corner specialist, who caused mayhem amongst the best teams in the world with his powerful penalty corner drills. It was heartening to see a sardarji and many such Indians in the stands at Sydney cheering and mingling with the Asian crowd, who were obviously rooting for Pakistan and understandably enough whenever the Pakistani forwards attacked the Dutch goal, the crowd would roar wild. Dutch were the best in business the, which they still are, although Pakistan, sadly so, are not the same team that brought us this laurel. Dutchmen kept attacking the Pakistani goal, served by the ever vigilant yet controversial goalkeeper, Mansoor Ahmed, three penalty corners in a row were the highlights of the first half, which earned the Dutch their goal, through, you know who……Bovelander ! Pakistan made brave moves that ultimately paid off in the first half as well when Tahir Zaman netted the ball on Asif Bajwa’s cross. It was 1-1 on half time and despite Pakistan putting up an even better show after the breather, they were unable to convert their moves. As was the case in the earlier Pakistan Germany semifinals, this match too, went down to the wire, when it was decided that each team hits the other’s net five times and the winner takes all, and Mansoor, happened to be the hero of the moment when he saved two penalty hits from the Dutchmen, the final from a relatively newcomer, Delmi. In hockey, as in football, such hits and saves can make a hero of a zero and vice versa. Delmi, off course, turned the villian for his side that evening and Mansoor was the unsung hero. Chants of “Hockey Power, Paki Power” filled the air of the Sydney stadium and it was a revenge when earned for Pakistan, when the same two opponents fought it out at the 1990 Hockey World cup in Lahore and Netherland got the better of Pakistan, then. But history was not destined to repeat itself and Pakistan earned the honor of being crowned world champions. The true grit with which every member of the Pakistan squad tussled against the opponents, throwing themselves all over the ground and attacking opponents goal post with unmatched zeal and vigour, was a 1treat to watch, something that has been dearly missed in recent times which, unfortunately, has been the reason for our national sport’s nose-dive in the recent past. Hockey, still, is loved by all and sundry, probably because of the appropriate duration, compared to cricket. But PHF needs to take drastic steps to nurture the youths to groom the Shahbaz, Waseem Feroze, Tahir Zamans of the future and thus allow us or our children to relive the glories of the wonderful game – Hockey !

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