Abdul Waheed Khan and Pakistan Hockey

Posted on November 6, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Books, People, Sports
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Owais Mughal

ONE: Let us go back to 1978

Let us go back in time. In 1978, Argentina was hosting two World Cup Tournaments. Hockey World Cup started at Buenos Aires in March 1978 and Soccer World Cup in June 1978. Pakistan won the hockey World Cup by defeating Holland in the final.

Throughout the hockey world cup, a wonderful Pakistan team managed by Abdul Waheed Khan and capatined by Islahuddin displayed a breathtaking attacking game. Crowd and connoisseurs got attracted alike.

Argentina’s soccer manager Cesar Luis Menotti became intrigued by Pakistan’s sublime technical skills. Midway through the hockey world cup, on a rest day, Pakistan manager Abdul Waheed Khan was informed that the manager of Argentine soccer team, Menotti, had arrived on his personal plane to see him. The Argentine chain-smoking coach always favored a stylish, attacking game based on skill and technique.

Menotti wanted to discuss in detail with Waheed, the tactics to penetrate packed defences. He watched a training session of Pakistan team with Abdul Waheed.

Abdul Waheed Khan had prepared Pakistan’s attacking strategy upon concept of double attack – if a move from right side failed then they made all the possible efforts to immediately initiate a move from left side on the assumption that most of the opponents’ defence had become concentrated on the right side, and vice versa.

Abdul Waheed explained to Menotti his strategy of ‘double attack’, as well as the ‘use of wingers’ whenever it becomes difficult to override the opposition through the middle. He watched a training session of Pakistan team with Waheed.

“I explained to him how it all worked in practice. He noted a few points and then left the ground. The rest is history.” said Waheed.

Argentina went on to win the soccer World Cup for the first time. And Menotti sent Waheed a telegram acknowledging that the Pakistan hockey team’s ploys had come in very handy to him! Thus it can be said that however small or big, Pakistan’s hockey World Cup victory helped in Argentina’s Soccer World Cup victory in 1978. First chapter of my article ends here. If it has raised enough curiosity in you then let us discover who is Abdul Waheed Khan.

TWO: Abdul Waheed Khan

Olympian Abdul Waheed Khan played International hockey for Pakistan from 1960 to 1966. He appeared in 56 international matches and scored 52 goals. He was part of the Pakistan hockey team which won Pakistan’s first gold medal in hockey at Rome Olympics in 1960.

Abdul Waheed Khan was the first of Pakistan’s great center-forwards. He was followed by the greats of Rasheedul hasan and Hasan Sardar. It is said that Abdul Waheed was a trend setter in a sense he was the first center forward who would also fall back to help defence; Something which was unheard of in his playing days.

In 1962 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Abdul Waheed Khan scored the Record number of 17 goals out of total 33 goals scored. His 17 goals included a double hat-trick also. This is Pakistan’s record of most numbers of goals by a player in a single tournament. It remained a World Record for 42 years until in 2004, Jorge Lombi of Argentina scored 26 goals in New America Cup at East London, Ontario, Canada.

As described in chapter one, Abdul Waheed Khan was the manager of Pakistan hockey team in following international tournaments and series and all of them were won by Pakistan.

  • 4th World Cup at Buneos Aires in 1978.
  • First Champions Trophy held at Lahore in 1978,
  • 8th Asian Games at Bangkok in 1978,
  • A 4-match Indo-Pak hockey series in 1978 which Pakistan won 3-1, and
  • Quaid-e-Azam centenery International Tournament held in Lahore in 1976.

At present, Abdul Waheed Khan lives in North Nazimabad, Karachi and keeps himself busy with sports related activities. From time to time his views and suggestions on National Hockey do appear in print media.

THREE: The Book – How to become World Champion

“In order to prepare a meaningful counter against the Dutch hockey team we had a film made of their best scorer, Paul Litjens in the action of taking the penalty corner strike. The film helped us in pinpointing the flaw in timing between the striker and the defender who dashes. There was a 0.5 second’s difference. Paul Litjens strike took 1.5 seconds from start to finish while Pakistani defender Islahuddin‘s dash took a little less than 2 seconds. Being aware of this flaw we were able to counter it with a speedier dash by Islahuddin”.

If you are like me then just reading above paragraph will get you hooked to this rare book which came out from Pakistan on the subject of Hockey coaching. It is written by Abdul Waheed Khan and is titled: Hockey – How to become World Champion.

This photo is from the chapter on center-forward. Shown here is Pakistan’s center-forward and captain Islahuddin Siddiqui going for the goal. Left-out Samiullah is also seen approaching the goal..

The book is not new. I couldn’t find the exact publishing date on it but looking at the photos I believe it came out in 1980s. The material covered and basic hockey strategies discussed in the book are universally applicable to todays world.

While cricket has now completely dominated our National Sports scene, it is great to be able to get a glimpse of Pakistan’s rich history of Hockey victories in a book form. The book also tells inside stories on how Pakistan team was prepared to win some of the major international tournaments of late 1970s.

Various anecdotes included in this book make it a very interesting read. For example here is how ‘scoop’ strategy of Holland players was marginalized in 1978 World Cup.

“(In Dutch team) center-half Steen employed the scoop with great advantage. He used to scoop the ball above the heads of defenders and the ball would land infront of the goal cage and Paul Litjens would always rush to take advantage of it. The wily Dutch had not used this technique on any other team except Pakistan. So in the first half of our pool match, we conceded 7 penalty-corners only on the scoop strategy. After the breather, inside-right Hanif Khan was deputed only to check Steen’s scoops. And he successfully neutralized him. In the Final match against Holland, Shahnaz Sheikh was shifted to right-in and given the task of checking Steen where as Hanif Khan was brought in as center-forward. This upset some of Holland’s calculations against Hanif Khan and went to our advantage. Pakistan won the world Cup…”

This Photo shows famous Pakistani hockey player Samiullah demonstrating for the book, how to do dribbling…

While Pakistan’s hockey style has switched many times from Asian to European to Euro-Asian, author Abdul Waheed Khan is a strong believer in maintaining Asian style of hockey and he is of the opinion that Asian teams should not succumb to European techniques. He is a proponent of ‘W’ formation attack on opposition’s goal post. The book consists of 19 chapters and 18 of them are devoted to hockey coaching techniques and how to build a winning combination. There is a chapter each dedicated to all the positions of a hockey team as well as for captain, manager, rules and team building. In the chapter on Center Forwards, I found this interesting anecdote:

Dhyan Chand of India, considered the world’s wizard in hockey was the most legendary center forward ever produced. Once in possession of the ball it seemed glued to his hockey stick as if a magnet was holding the ball and stick together. So much so that once in Germany in 1936 he was asked to change his hockey stick.”

What gives this book such an authority is the credibility of author himself. A paragraph from the book which is philosophical as well as educating is:

“For losing teams self-control is necessary. Conserving emotions conserves energy and it is very important. If a team has played well and lost there is no shame in such defeat. Take for example the team from the African country of Ghana in the first junior World Cup. It managed to contain Pakistan’s goal scoring to 3 only. Ghana lost but everyone in Pakistan was praising thr prowess of the losing team”

Abdul Waheed Khan got the idea of writing this book after the world cup of 1978 and it was published in 1980.

FOUR: Hockey Trivia

(1) Pakistan’s hockey team which won Gold at Rome Olympics in 1960 comprised of following players: Abdul Waheed, Abdul Hamid, Abdul Rashid, Ahmad Bashir, Rasul Ghulam, Anwar Khan, Aslam Khursheed, Habib Kiddi, Hussain Manzoor, Ahmed Mushtaq, Muttiullah, Ahmad Nasir and Noor Alam.

Photo to the right shows coordination between a Center-Forward and outside left for an attack on the goal. Center-Forward here is Islahuddin Siddiqui and outside-left is flying horse Samiullah.
(2) During their victorious campaign of 1978 World Cup, Pakistan hockey team created several records:

– The first team to capture the World Cup without losing (or even drawing) a single match
– Pakistan’ goal difference of 31 goals (35 for and four against) remains a World Cup record
– Their total of 35 goals was also a new high for a single edition of a World Cup (only to be bettered by Pakistan itself in the next World Cup).

Photo to the right shows Pakistan’s ex hockey player Rasheed-ul-Hasan demonstrating basic hockey stick grip.

(3) Pakistan’s First international hockey match was against Belgium which Pakistan won 2-1. It was played on August 2, 1948.

(4) Sohail Abbas (1998-2006) of Pakistan holds the World record of scoring most career goals. His tally is 348 goals in 347 international matches. Sohail is the all time top scorer for Pakistan in all 3 FIH tournaments.

References: Pakistan artistry helps fuel football success: by Ijaz Chaudhry.

29 responses to “Abdul Waheed Khan and Pakistan Hockey”

  1. Owais Mughal says:

    A news item from today says Pakistan’s national team is training very hard in Lahore for the upcoming hockey tour of China :) ….ab ye naubat aa gayee hai…Especially after China has beaten Pakistan 3-2 the last time they met.

  2. Ahmed Singh says:

    Pakistan Wins Gold over USA but no one knows whodunit in Pakistan and it never got picked up by media.

    Read all about it!

    Here is the excerpt:

    Team Pakistan all Canucks
    TheStar.com – Sports – Team Pakistan all Canucks

    Capture Street Hockey World Cup; Canada’s national men’s and women’s teams also bring home gold

    June 19, 2007
    Sheila Dabu
    Staff Reporter

    It wasn’t exactly Hockey Night in Canada, but this year’s world champion street hockey team says it came close.

    The underdog Pakistan team defeated the favoured United States 5-1 to win the Street Hockey World Cup in Ratingen, Germany.

    While members of the gold medal winning team wear Pakistan’s national colours on the field, many say they carry Canadian hopes with them in their hearts.

    All 24 members of Pakistan’s squad are Canadian citizens and according to coach Naveed Mohammad, eligibility for the country depends on whether the player or his parents were born in the country or if the player works or studies in that country.

    Sixteen teams at the World Cup were divided into two divisions, with Pool A hosting nations with teams whose country has more than 5,000 street hockey players.

    Pool B hosted those countries with teams that have less than 5,000 players.

    Pakistan took top honours in Pool B, but in the next world championships in 2009, they will face Canada, which topped Pool A over the Czech Republic and also won gold. Canada’s women’s team also returned home with a gold medal.

    Street hockey shares similar rules with ice hockey. The first international tournament was held in Oshawa in 1994.

    For members of Pakistan’s team, street ball hockey is a full-time obsession, even though most hold full-time jobs.

    Mohammad, a Leafs fan who once painted his basement white and blue as a quasi-shrine for his favourite team, is the chief of emergency services at the William Osler Health Centre.

    Mohammad says his team practises twice a week after work.

    Team captain Ijaz Chaudhry is also an ER doctor with three children who makes time for the cross-training workout, which includes basketball, cardio drills and three-hour practices in an ice hockey rink, minus the ice.

    Some of the players on the Pakistani team like Mohammad emigrated to Canada and wanted to play ice hockey but found the equipment and ice time too expensive.

    Mohammad says that as a 10-year-old, he once dreamed of playing in the NHL but then discovered street hockey.

    When Canada won the gold medal in Germany, Mohammad says his team was proud and elated.

    “We stood and cheered,” he said. “It must have been strange (for the other teams) to see members of the Pakistan team sing Canada’s national anthem as we carried Canada in our hearts.”

    The team received a warm welcome from family members when they arrived at Pearson International Airport yesterday.

  3. Rishikesh Nimal says:

    Grt article abt legends in pakistan,my father Mr. Hiranna Nimal was a member of 1962 Asian games ,Djakarta can i get some photographs or Videos of Qurter/Semi/Final mathches which were held in Asian Games – 1962 where Pakistan had beaten India in finals …please do mail me on rishinimal@gmail.com

    Rishikesh Nimal

  4. pakistani says:

    Muttiullah, mentioned in the Rome winning team is uncle of Samiullah and Kalimullah. All three are from Bahawal Pur. It is a legend in Bahawal Pur that Muttiullah’s stick was checked multiple times during international matches as ball would never leave his stick.
    During my childhood, Bahawal Pur city was surrounded by green land and most of the children played Hockey. Matches between high school teams attracted hundreds of spectators, no pun intended. It was considered an honor to be selected to the B team of “the Afghan Hockey Club” that produced Olympians. When I last time went to Bahawal Pur, most of the green land has been converted to cemented malls. We get what we deserve.

  5. PatExpat says:

    Pakistan Hockey Team has been outplayed by newbies South Korea in Azlan Shah Tournament. Lets see what scapegoat we find this time as there was no bearded player in the time nor the team was seen observing prayers.

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