When Muhammad Atiq put the ball in the goal, the Pakistan bench erupted in joy. High fives and pumped fists were pointed towards their opponents’ bench. Four minutes later, Faizal Saari equalised the scoreline with his flick in the 55th minute. This time Malaysia coach Roelant Oltmans returned the favour.
The undercurrent was understandable.
After being appointed Pakistan head coach in March, the Dutchman quit saying, “the circumstances didn’t create an environment where they could get the best out of the team. I don’t think the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) can change the circumstances from my point of view.”
The rumour in the hockey circles was that Oltmans was not being paid his salary because of the financial stress on PHF.
On being asked whether there is a frost in the relations, Atiq said that though they still share a good relationship with their former coach, the feeling wasn’t great in the camp when he left. “He was our coach and a very good one. Malaysia had this plus point as he was eight months with us recently. Now he is with them. They knew our pluses and minuses, he knows each player individually,” said Atiq.
“Yes, we felt bad when he left, especially at a crucial period, right before the World Cup. But it’s all part of life. We all met him happily.”
Pakistan assistant coach Rehan Butt said Oltmans’ decision was his own, adding that it was time to move on. “He moved to Malaysia after staying in Pakistan for eight months. There must be pressure on him, that is why the reaction. Both of us wanted to win the match,” said Butt.
“For me there is no fair or unfair in professionalism. He went wherever he got a better pay. I don’t think there’s any reason to feel guilty. He left because he wished to. He got a better opportunity, so he went.”
Oltmans said the Pakistani setup was not conducive to develop hockey. “The whole setup to get an elite sports programme in the country and to ensure that there is a development programme that ensures long time performance of Pakistan is not there, something that I tried to raise in my time to make them understand,” said Oltmans.
“After I left, a couple of things have happened (sponsorship money). I feel people understood that it was really a do-or-die moment and luckily they did something for the sport. I do believe Pakistan has potential for hockey, so hopefully, they’ll come back to their old level.”
First Published: Dec 06, 2018 19:14 IST