The international hockey federation (FIH) has initiated an inquiry against Pakistan’s assistant coach Danish Kaleem for breaching security protocol, adding to the list of off-field issues plaguing the former champions at the Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
Danish has been called for a hearing by the FIH’s technical delegate on Saturday after he was charged for moving around in the stadium without having his accreditation card during the Pool D match against Malaysia on Wednesday.
With the World Cup nearing halfway stage, Pakistan’s campaign is getting from bad to worse due to a host of issues, which includes an injury blow to skipper Muhammad Rizwan Senior and a one-match suspension to his deputy Ammad Butt.
As if that was not enough, Hockey India has now lodged an official complaint with FIH’s technical delegate Christian Deckenbrock of Germany against Danish for breaching security protocol and misbehaving with security persons inside the stadium.
Pakistan’s chief coach Tauqeer Ahmad Dar admitted things are far from rosy for his side on and off the field ahead of their crucial Pool D match against Netherlands on Sunday.
“The last few days have been very hard,” Dar told reporters after a practice session on Friday. “Most energies are being wasted on things other than sports.”
He added, “One of our main players, our skipper, has fractured his toe and is out of the tournament. Our vice-captain has been banned by the technical delegate. The reason, we have no clue. There was no action taken on the ground. No penalty corner was given and no green card was given. One more inquiry about our coach that has been lodged by Hockey India. A new enquiry every day.”
Explaining the reasons behind the inquiry, Dar said: “Me and Danish sit on the terrace and watch match. And we communicate with walkie-talkie to [manager] Hasan Sardar and [assistant coach] Rehan Butt (assistant coach).
“At half time against Malaysia, I had sent [Danish] with some notes to Hassan bhai. When he was coming back, he was stopped by the security and they asked for his accreditation card.
“Unfortunately, he forgot his card in the dressing room but the security people misbehaved with him. Yesterday, [Hockey India] lodged a complaint,” he added.
Dar termed Ammad Butt’s suspension as completely unfair and said one of the Pakistani players had to get stitches on his head after being hit by a Malaysian player but no action was initiated against him.
“Hassan Sardar was emailed in the morning that there is a decision pending against Ammad Butt and that he has done something very wrong,” Dar said.
[Ammad] went to the enquiry, but there is no evidence. But that is the decision of the technical delegate. We have appealed against that and I hope sanity prevails.
“He was shown a video for just two or three minutes. It shows a Pakistani rusher trying to save a PC. A Malaysian forward is trying to score. One of our boys Abu Bakr got stitches because of a stick from a Malaysian boy. But that’s okay. It’s hockey, not ping pong,” the coach said.
A FIH spokesperson later confirmed that both the hearings that of Ammad Butt’s appeal against suspension and the inquiry against Danish will be conducted on Saturday.
Dar, meanwhile, said the off-field issues are having an adverse effect on the Pakistani players.
“We are in bad shape mentally. We are focusing on things other than [what happens on] the ground,” he said.
“Only 15 [players] left for the match against Holland. It is a major handicap as we are minus one tyre of a car against Netherlands, one of the toughest teams in the tournament,” the former Olympian said.
Four-time champions Pakistan are currently placed third in Pool D behind Netherlands and table-toppers Germany. They need at least a draw against the Dutch to avoid an early exit from the tournament.
“Pakistan cannot beat Holland on skill right now or on physical fitness,” Dar said. “It is only the mental strength of the boys and the passion for hockey. The difference between their grassroots and our grassroots is like 300%.
“We have talked to the boys about what is going on off the field. We have said that you should be fully motivated. The place to take revenge is here. If they play according to their capacity and go beyond it, we can give a tough fight to Holland,” he added.