Abdul Waheed Khan and Hockey

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.

The photo above 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.

Photo to the right is from the chapter on goal-keepers. Pakistan’s famous goal keeper and ex-captain Salim Sherwani is seen demonstrating how to stop a ball at goal post.

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…”

Photo to the right 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.”

Photo to the right shows Pakistan’s ex-Captain Akhtar Rasul demonstrating for the book on how to stop a ball by hand for a Penalty-Corner shot..

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”

Photo to the right shows Pakistan flying horse Samiullah demonstrating basic stance for attempting a hockey hit..

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, born: 9 June 1977, holds the World record of scoring most career goals. His tally is 288 goals in 240 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.

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