New Delhi. Describing the Indian hockey team as a strong contender for the World Cup, Pakistan’s Olympic and World Cup-winning legendary center forward Hasan Sardar has said that India will have the added advantage of playing at home. The World Cup will be played in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29 in which India has been placed in Group D along with England, Spain and Wales. Sardar said in a conversation with Pakistan, “I had said even before the Tokyo Olympics that this Indian team can win medals. They won the bronze medal but the top four teams don’t make much of a difference.” He was one of the heroes who got it.
His hat-trick was instrumental in defeating India in the final of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi. He said, “The Indian team has the focus and will also get the advantage of playing on the home ground. I have seen hockey in Odisha and there is a different atmosphere to play there. I especially want to congratulate the Chief Minister of Odisha (Naveen Patnaik). He said that India has a great drag-flicker in Harmanpreet Singh and the forward line is also strong. He said, “The most important thing in hockey is to score goals. India’s strong point is its penalty corners and forward line. The Indian team has the ability to score goals.
One of the most successful teams in the World Cup, four-time champions Pakistan could not qualify for the tournament and it hurts them.Sardar, who was Pakistan’s coach and chief selector, said, “Definitely the players who have won the World Cup and the Olympics will feel sad. The team may not win but there should have been participation in the World Cup. He said, “At one time Indian hockey had gone way back but the way India has revived hockey is commendable. Pakistan will also have to do something similar. ,
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Expressing dismay at the decline of hockey in Pakistan which has produced great players like Samiullah Khan, Kalimullah, Sohail Abbas, Shakeel Abbasi, he said there is no dearth of talent but there is no platform for them. He said, “Hockey is no longer being played in schools and colleges in Pakistan. People have stopped watching hockey because they do not want to see the team losing. There are no new heroes of hockey in front of them because heroes are made only after winning. There is also lack of facilities and there is no platform for talents.