The Pakistan hockey team finished third in the recently concluded 29th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cupitle invitational hockey tournament. The event has been hosted in Ipoh, Malaysia, since 1983.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and its cronies, including some former stalwarts, always on the lookout for some assignment from the PHF, are overjoyed at this result. They are going around announcing that Pakistan reaching the victory stand after a long time signals Pakistan hockey's revival. This is hogwash.

The 2022 edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup saw four Asian and two African teams competing. There was not a single side from Europe, hockey's power base. The highest-ranked team was the host Malaysia (ranked 10th in the world). Winning the tournament for the first time, the hosts also benefitted from the absence of strong sides.

Never in the history of this tournament has the field been so poor. This is because the top nine teams were busy with the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) flagship event, the FIH Pro League.

Following the Pakistan hockey team's victory at the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the top brass of the PHF is claiming the team is on its way to recapturing its past glory. This is very far from the truth

The PHF has also been emphasising that the team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup had nine new players, as several established members of the national team had preferred playing in English hockey league clubs over the national team. The same holds true for almost all the sides, which featured there because such minor non-title tournaments are usually used by national federations to try out new players.

Malaysia, Korea and Japan only had five to six first-choice players in their squads. South Africa, who finished a very creditable fourth at this year's Commonwealth Games, had not a single player from that team present at Ipoh. Almost all of their players, too, are playing in top European leagues.

The PHF has labelled the nine Pakistani internationals playing in the English league as mercenaries, who preferred money over the national cause. Citing financial reasons for their non-availability, only two of the nine, Ammad Shakeel Butt and Mubashar Ali, had sent in their resignations to the PHF. The other seven had actually made themselves available for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

When contacted by Eos, some of the players, who prefer to stay anonymous, say that they proceeded to England only after getting a...

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