New Delhi, May 20: Pakistan’s head coach Siegfried Aikman has said that world hockey needs India and Pakistan to lead the sport.
The 63-year-old Dutch coach, whose roots can be traced back to undivided India from where his ancestors moved to Suriname, added that India is doing well at the moment but Pakistan needs to revive its hockey.
India and Pakistan had dominated world hockey for decades until the 1970s before losing their leading position after the 1980s. But India bounced back to win the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year and the team male currently ranks third in the world. Pakistan is ranked 18th in the FIH rankings.
Speaking before the start of the Men’s Asian Cup, Pakistan’s new head coach Aikman said: “World hockey needs India and Pakistan to lead the sport. India is doing well at the moment. But we need to revive ourselves and I have hoping that we can do that here and make Pakistani hockey look promising again I want to develop a structure in the country where we can start building players at the grassroots so that in 10 years we will have a team from Pakistan that can compete against the the best teams.” The Asian Cup, which kicks off in Jakarta on May 23, is a World Cup qualifier. India, Japan, Pakistan and host Indonesia are drawn into Group A, while Malaysia, Korea, Oman and Bangladesh are drawn into Group B.
Speaking before the start of the Men’s Asian Cup, which will feature the participation of the major Asian countries, Aikman said: “I think it will be a difficult tournament. There is no second chance or detour for other teams to reach the Men’s Cup. World”. Apart from India, who have already qualified for the World Cup, it is all or nothing for the other teams. So we all have to give it our all in the tournament.” In a mega battle, India will take on Pakistan in the Group A match on Monday (May 23). With the Super 4 format introduced in the Asian Cup, the possibility of India playing Pakistan twice is also a possibility Asked about the relations between the two teams, Aikman spoke about the mutual respect between the players of the two nations.
“The players are very excited to be back in the competition. They want to play against the best and are looking forward to the match against India,” said Aikman, who led the Japan men’s ice hockey team to the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games. in Jakarta.
“There is a lot of respect among Pakistani players for Indian hockey players. Some Indians are even their role models. I also saw the same respect in Indian players the other way around. It’s good to have this environment,” he added. .
“The Indian hockey team is a great example for teams in Asia. They showed that you can come from far and go far. It takes time, but if you do it consistently and bluntly, you will get there,” Aikman concluded.