BHUBANESWAR: The Pakistan team management are staring at another controversy a day before their crunch clash against The Netherlands on Sunday. The Green Shirts, who have collected one point from their opening two games, might be forced to take the field without one of their assistant coaches — Danish Kaleem — for that game after he allegedly misbehaved with stadium security while trying to access an area without his accreditation card.
Kaleem and chief coach Tauqir Dar had watched the first half of the Malaysia game from a vantage point high up inside the West Stand. After coming back to brief the team during half-time, Kaleem, who had misplaced his accreditation inside the dressing room, wasn’t allowed to get back into his seat for the second half.
The four-time world champions were miffed about the development after Technical Delegate Christian Deckenbrock registered a complaint because of Kaleem’s actions. Interestingly enough, while it was an International Hockey Federation (FIH) matter, Dar, in an impromptu mixed zone interview on Friday, blamed Hockey India (HI) for the whole thing. “One more inquiry has been lodged by Hockey India,” he said. “A new inquiry every day.” FIH clarified the matter later. “The TD filed a complaint and there will be a hearing on Saturday.”
The team will face another FIH hearing on Saturday, this time pertaining to the services of Ammad Butt. The defender was handed a one-match suspension after he was charged with causing excessive physical harm during a penalty corner in the match against Malaysia which finished 1-1. Dar, who had first leaked the matter to the media, claimed there was a conspiracy against Pakistan. “There was no action taken by the umpire on the ground,” he said. “There was no penalty corner and no cards were handed out. I hope sanity prevails. These are tactics (gamesmanship) maybe. We are in a bad shape mentally, focussing on things other than the match. We are discussing who is going to come because of injury.”
That’s the other thing that’s put Dar & Co. under immense pressure in the last 24 hours. Skipper Muhammad Rizwan Sr, who was initially ruled out of only one match, is now out of the World Cup because of a fractured toe in his left foot. “Out of the 18 players, two are not going to be there against The Netherlands. It’s going to be a major handicap against one of the toughest teams in the tournament.”