Karachi: Pakistan hockey team coach Shahnaz Sheikh made allegations that it was “India’s conspiracy” to put pressure on his players ahead of the Champions Trophy final against Germany, which his team lost 0-2.
Pakistan players had engaged in wild celebrations after beating arch-rivals India 4-3 in a nail-biting semi-final in Bhubaneswar with some taling their jerseys off while making obscene gesture towards the Indian spectators. As a result two of his players Amjad Ali and Mohammed Tousiq were banned.
Sheikh, a former Olympian alleged foul-play and also said that a “small incident” was blown out of proportion.
“The way the incident of our players celebrating after the semi-final win over India was blow out of proportion and the manner in which we were put under pressure before the final against Germany is a confirmation of Indian conspiracy. They didn’t want us to win the title,” Sheikh told PTI in an interview.
Sheikh also complained that the team wasn’t provided with any security as they were returning by bus crossing the Wagah Border.
“It was a long drive and there was no security escort given to us which was strange because in the past buses have been stoned and harassed on this route. More importantly, soon after we beat India in the semi-final, the attitude towards us changed and it added to the pressure on us before the final,” fumed Sheikh.
The Indian media and Hockey India had lashed out at the Pakistani players after their over-the-top celebrations but the celebrated player of his time defended the incident.
“It was natural action on their part and it wasn’t done with any wrong intention. They are youngsters and they got emotional and carried away. But the way the incident was blown out of proportion and the way I was pressurized to submit a public apology was an awful experience,” said Sheikh.
He went on to allege that even India’s behaviour after their Asian Games triumph was not at all sporting.
“When the Indians beat us in the Asian Games final, they also celebrated in a big way and they made signs but we accepted all that in sporting spirit because such celebrations are done at spur of the moment. It’s not meant to convey any message,” said Sheikh.
He said he would like to see the Pakistan Hockey Federation take up the matter with the FIH.
“The Indian hockey officials after the CT semi-final, literally bullied us and the match officials to ban two players which made a difference to us in the final,” Sheikh added.