football
A long way to go
A poor show by our colts
in Asian Under-22 championship comes as a big wake-up call for Pakistan’s football authorities
By Alam Zeb Safi
Quite unexpectedly Pakistan Under-22 football team slumped to rock bottom in the 2013 Asian Cup Qualifiers which concluded in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) last week. The apparently well-prepared Greenshirts looked short on both talent and experience, something they needed to counter their tough rivals in the continental spectacle. 

Spain: On top of the world
The Spaniards keep winning titles on the international sporting arena
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal
Tens of thousands of people turned downtown Madrid into a sea of red last weekend, flooding the thoroughfares and taking over the main fountain square of the Spanish capital after the national football team won another Euro 2012 championship, with a 4-0 victory over Italy. 
And why wouldn't they? The Spaniards deserved it. "Viva La Roja y Amarillo" (Long Live Red and Yellow) or "La furia roja" (the red fury). 
This is the fruit of their hard work and tough practice. 

Striking gold in Rome
Pakistan won the first of their three Olympic titles in 1960. Here’s the story
By Ijaz Chaudhry 
Before the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Pakistan had achieved a real morale booster by winning the 1958 Asian Games hockey gold medal in Tokyo, albeit on goal average, thus relegating India to the second position for the first time. 
It was almost the same team that had been playing together since 1958. Eight of the first choice XI had played in the 1956 final against India in Melbourne, where Pakistan had won its first ever Olympic medal, a silver. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

football
A long way to go
A poor show by our colts
in Asian Under-22 championship comes as a big wake-up call for Pakistan’s football authorities
By Alam Zeb Safi

Quite unexpectedly Pakistan Under-22 football team slumped to rock bottom in the 2013 Asian Cup Qualifiers which concluded in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) last week. The apparently well-prepared Greenshirts looked short on both talent and experience, something they needed to counter their tough rivals in the continental spectacle.

After going 0-1 down against Saudi Arabia, Pakistan were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by comparatively weaker Sri Lanka. This brought down the team's morale and thereafter it kept losing matches, tasting a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Kyrgyzstan, was crushed by Syria 4-0 and in their last show Zavisa Milosavljevic's charges also went 0-1 down against Palestine.

In the entire affair, Pakistan failed to score a single goal, but conceded eight in the process. Pakistan's finishing, as usual, was their Achilles Heals. There were some reports that coach Zavisa made some rapid changes in the line-up which he had already decided on tours of Thailand and Palestine.

Injuries to left-back Ahsanullah and skipper Kaleemullah also affected the team's performance. The selection of a few ordinary players, who had no international exposure, also went against the team.

Before flying for Riyadh, Pakistan were provided with two and a half months' hectic training both at home and abroad. The boys were sent to Thailand, Palestine and Bahrain where they played a number of practice matches against different oppositions.

Coach Zavisa Milosavljevic did not blame his players for the poor display but the system back home which has been unable to produce the stuff able to face pressure of tough international events. "I will not blame the players for their failure in the Asian Cup Qualifiers. They showed a lot of improvement after around three months of good training but I would say that they are still far behind the rest of the countries who participated in the Asian Cup Qualifiers," Zavisa told 'The News on Sunday' in an interview.

"Pakistan needs to strengthen its club structure. If you have a sound domestic system you will find players who will already know the basics of the game and a coach will have to focus on the build up, super training and preparation of the team ahead of any competition and not to work on their basics," the Serbian pointed out.

"Pakistan is far behind and will have to adopt a solid approach to correct its football," he said. "I will discuss these issues with the authorities and will try to sort out a solution for the problems. If the same team with slight changes is groomed for around two years, then I would be in a position to explain myself. There is a dire need of persistent and systematic grooming of different age-group teams under a healthy pool of highly qualified coaches which could produce and develop better stuff for the senior or Olympic sides," he stressed.

"My responsibility is to run a senior team but I will also guide and support those coaches who will run age-group teams. But I once again say that this should be a continuous process and should not be halted," he said.

In the entire tournament, Pakistani keeper Saqib Hanif played exceptionally well as he saved several sure goals even against the tough oppositions like Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Saqib, who has recently joined KRL, may become a worthy successor of the experienced goalie Jaffar Khan who is still captaining the senior side.

The qualifiers were a real test for the Serbian coach Zavisa in which he failed badly. He is accused by experts of defensive approach. But still he will be given a few more opportunities as the PFF does not want to remove him now as he has hardly served for around eight months as a coach.

His next challenge will be the South Asian Games which are expected to be hosted by India in New Delhi early next year.

But I would suggest that the team which will participate in the South Asian Games should be given to any other home-grown coach while Zavisa should be assigned the task to prepare the senior team for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in March next year.

The senior team has not played any international game for the last six months which shows that it will be difficult for the country like Pakistan to improve its ranking.

Pakistan should think beyond the South Asian Games as there is no value of such a regional tournament in the eyes of the AFC and FIFA. Pakistan should focus on giving maximum exposure to the senior team and at least four foreign tours ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers will be required to produce the desired results in the continental event.

The foreign coach should also try to induct key foreign-based players which could transform the team into a fighting unit. He should also review what sort of support staff he will need for producing desired results on international circuit.

In order to improve football, the PFF should also review its administrative structure and have a qualified Director Technical who could work strongly to put the country out of the crisis.

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Spain: On top of the world
The Spaniards keep winning titles on the international sporting arena
By Hasan Junaid Iqbal

Tens of thousands of people turned downtown Madrid into a sea of red last weekend, flooding the thoroughfares and taking over the main fountain square of the Spanish capital after the national football team won another Euro 2012 championship, with a 4-0 victory over Italy.

And why wouldn't they? The Spaniards deserved it. "Viva La Roja y Amarillo" (Long Live Red and Yellow) or "La furia roja" (the red fury).

This is the fruit of their hard work and tough practice.

The victory at Kiev's Olympic Stadium made Spain the first team to retain the European crown and the first from the continent to win three straight major competitions following its 2010 World Cup success.

"Those people who think we are playing boring in my opinion don't understand the game," Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas told reporters. "Three major trophies in a row has never been done before in the history of football."

Spain took the game to the Italians from the start and there was a zip about its passing, with Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva buzzing around the opposition defence, to immediately get the upper hand.

With defensive midfielders Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets providing the foundation, Xavi Hernandez was able to dictate from the central areas, feeding the runs of both the forwards and the fullbacks up the flanks.

Let's not forget about Vicente del Bosque here, to whom Spain's victory really belongs. The sometimes gruff but unfailingly respectful 61-year-old built on the triumph of Euro 2008 and has turned Spain into a harmonious and incredibly effective unit that has taken its place at the summit of world football, smashing records along the way. He becomes the second coach to win a European Championship and a World Cup title after German Helmut Schoen achieved the feat in the decade of 1970s.

Spain is also the current European basketball "Baloncesto" champion too and their ACB (Asociaciòn de Clubs de Baloncesto) is not only the top competitive basketball league but is also considered to be one of the best in the world and second in the line after NBA of USA.

Spanish team for London Olympics is oozing with talents like the Los Angeles Lakers' forward Pau Gasol, Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Manuel Calderon, shooting guard Rudy Fernandez of the Denver Nuggets, and Oklahoma City Thunder's power forward Serge Ibaka.

The first game in the history of the selection was a friendly game before the 1935 EuroBasket, where Spain faced the selection of Portugal. This event, which was held in Geneva in the summer of year 1935 was the start of EuroBasket in history.

Spain was able to finish second and qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where basketball was introduced for the first time. After this, the team disappeared from the EuroBasket competition for over 20 years and reappeared at the EuroBasket 1959 in Turkey, where it finished 15th.

In the following years, the selection slowly but surely worked its way up the medal ranks again and appeared on the podium six times between 1959 and 2007.

Then Spain came to host the 2007 EuroBasket which was held in Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante, Seville and Granada. At this competition the same 12 players that won the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan made it through to the final.

The tennis ace and world No 2 in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Rafael Nadal (Rafa) of Spain has won numerous major titles, including US Open, Australian Open, five-time winner of Roland Garros in France and Wimbledon in England.

Rafa defeated his rival Roger Federer of Switzerland in the 2008 Wimbledon final, considered one of the greatest matches of all time, and in doing so became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year.

Nadal also defeated Federer to win the 2009 Australian Open final; it was the seventh time the two met in a Grand Slam final. He ascended to the No 1 spot on August 18, 2008.

Nadal was the first left-handed man to finish the year with the No 1 ranking since John McEnroe in 1984, and the first Spaniard ever to achieve that feat.

We must not forget the Spanish conquerors in cycling, the riders led by SaxoBank-Sungard's Alberto Contador, winner of last year's Tour de France, this year's Giro Italia, and most of the other races he's entered.

Spain's Contador and his compatriots Jesus Hernandez, Daniel Navarro and Benjamin Noval are the dominant and top-in-the-line tour riders of this generation —especially in the climbing stages.

Fernando Alonso, Adriàn Campos, Pedro de la Rosa and Maria de Villota are the world famous Spanish drivers of Formula one race. Previously of McLaren, Minardi, Renault and currently of Ferrari driver, Alonso, a two-time world champion, missed out on third place in the overall driver standings by a single point to Red Bull's Mark Webber. This followed a five-win 2010 campaign in which Alonso finished second in the standings and battled for the world championship all the way through the end of the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Alonso joined Ferrari ahead of the 2010 season after leaving Renault, the team with which he won titles in 2005 and 2006. Alonso spent the 2007 season with McLaren before returning to Renault for two more years.

[email protected]

 

 

 

Striking gold in Rome
Pakistan won the first of their three Olympic titles in 1960. Here’s the story
By Ijaz Chaudhry

Before the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Pakistan had achieved a real morale booster by winning the 1958 Asian Games hockey gold medal in Tokyo, albeit on goal average, thus relegating India to the second position for the first time.

It was almost the same team that had been playing together since 1958. Eight of the first choice XI had played in the 1956 final against India in Melbourne, where Pakistan had won its first ever Olympic medal, a silver.

So, most of the players knew that it was their last chance to win an Olympic gold. The team were again led by Abdul Hameed Hameedi, the lone survivor from the 1948 Olympic games at London.

Hameedi's influence can be judged from the fact that he replaced Zafar Ahmad Khan by Zafar Hayat at virtually the last moment. Ali Iqtidar Shah Dara, the coach of the 1956 squad, was now the manager of the team.

Pakistan started in a cavalier fashion by beating the super-fit Australians 3-0, but it was not an easy game as Australians denied Pakistan a goal until the last 15 minutes. Then Pakistan pulverised Poland by an 8-0 margin and thrashed Japan by a 10-0 score line.

In the quarter-final, Pakistan found West Germany a hard nut to crack. Pakistan did not have the services of the redoubtable full-back Muneer Dar for this match, but his substitute Basheer Ahmad did not let his absence be felt. Pakistan went ahead through that great centre forward Abdul Waheed, but the Germans equalised quickly. Left-in Naseer Bunda netted the winner.

Although Pakistan won the semifinal against Spain by a lone goal courtesy full-back Manzoor Hussain Atif's penalty corner conversion, their superiority was never in doubt — though Hameedi had to save a penalty bully. 

Muneer Dar had recovered in time for the final but on skipper Hameedi's insistence the winning combination was retained. Hence, the stage was set for a clash of the titans in the eternal city of Rome. The Indian side, which had won six Olympic hockey titles on the trot, were now pitted against the determined and hungry Pakistanis.

The Greenshirts started with an all-out attack. Throughout the tournament Pakistan's main ploy in originating attacks was the right trio.

It consisted of right-half Ghulam Rasool Chaudhry, right-in Hameedi and right-out Noor Alam.

In the 13th minute of the final, Hameedi slipped away Noor Alam with a clear run. Noor Alam's centre found left-in Naseer Bunda. The ball stopped dead on his stick and was flicked like a flash onto the left side of the Indian goalkeeper. This proved to be the decisive goal and it ended India's 32-year reign in Olympic hockey.

Pakistan's dominance of the tournament can be gauged from the fact that they scored 25 goals and only one was made against them.

The famous English hockey journalist R L Holland paid tribute to Hameedi and Naseer Buda in these words: "In the final analysis it was their inside forwards, Hameedi and Naseer, who won Pakistan their gold medal and most of all Hameed. He does not play the spectacular trick of Naseer or the Indian Peter. But neither of these men have his shrewd tactical appreciation and command of the movement. To my eyes, he is the most constructive forward in the world today."

This was the crowning achievement for the skipper Hameedi who retired from hockey after having competed in four consecutive Olympic Games. It was also a momentous occasion for the manager A I S Dara who had really worked hard all these years to build up a winning squad.

But most importantly it was a great occasion for the entire Pakistani nation which finally had an Olympic gold medal. A huge gathering welcomed the team back home and there were big receptions in all the major cities in their honour.

It is worth mentioning here that the 1960 Olympics hockey final was televised through out the Western Europe on the European link-up. It was also the first time that TV covered the Olympics on such a large scale although it was in London in 1948 that the Olympic Games were first shown on home television sets.

Team Positions: (1) Pakistan. (2) India. (3) Spain. (4) Great Britain. (5) New Zealand. (6) Australia. (7) West Germany. (8) Kenya. (9) Holland. (10) France. (11) Belgium. (12) Poland. (13) Italy. (14) Japan. (15) Switzerland. (16) Denmark.

Team: Goalkeepers: Abdul Rasheed and Ronny Gardener. Full-backs: Muneer Dar, Manzoor Atif, Khursheed Azam and Basheer Ahmad. Half-backs: Ghulam Rasool Chaudhry, Anwaar Ahmed Khan, Habib Ali Kiddie, Zafar Hayat. Forwards: Noor Alam, Abdul Hameed Hameedi, Abdul Waheed Khan, Naseer Bunda, Mutiullah Khan, Zafar Ali Zafari, Mushtaq Ahmad, Khawaja Zakauddin.

Captain: Abdul Hameed Hameedi. Manager: A I S Dara

Goals: Abdul Hameed Hameedi 9, Abdul Waheed 6, Naseer Bunda 5, Muneer Dar 1, M H Atif 1, Mutiullah 1, Anwaar A Khan 1, Noor Alam 1.

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caption

Pakistani Hockey team in 1958


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