Pakistan artistry helps fuel football success

I picked up something that was being reported in the news (German national team soccer Coach Klinsman thought about hiring national hockey coach) and my following feature grew out of it. I had read a passing mention about it some where. For details, I contacted Abdul Waheed Khan in Pakistan. Published in World Hockey April 2006 (Online Issue 32)

While speculation earlier this year linked German hockey coach Bernhard Peters to a post in football, the connection between the sports dates back almost 20 years when Argentina’s football manager Cesar Luis Menotti became intrigued by Pakistan’s sublime technical skills.

The year was 1978 and the place Argentina. That year, Argentina was host to two World Cups: Hockey in March/April and soccer in June.

Throughout the Hockey World Cup, a wonderful Pakistan team managed by Abdul Waheed Khan displayed a breathtaking attacking game which captivated crowds and connoisseurs alike.

During their victorious campaign, the green shirts created several records:
1. The first team to capture the World Cup without losing (or even drawing) a single match
2. Pakistan’s goal difference of 31 goals (35 for and four against) remains a World Cup record
3. 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).

Records aside, it was the style and manner in which they pulverised all defences which endeared them to all.

According to their manager Waheed Khan, Pakistan’s attacking strategy was based 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.

Midway through the Hockey World Cup, on a rest day, 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 favoured 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 Waheed. He (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.

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