The all-conquering national hockey team were proud holders of four major titles — the World Cup, Asia Cup, Asian Games and Olympic Games.
The 80s started on an optimistic note for Pakistan hockey. The first event was the Champions Trophy which was held in Karachi in January 1980. Led by Munnawaruz Zaman Pakistan was in great fettle. Following a goalless draw against India, Pakistan decisively beat Spain 5-1 in their next match with two goals from Samiullah and one each from Manzoor Junior, Akhtar Rasool and Kaleemullah. They followed this by overrunning a bewildered Australian side 7-1, which included a hat-trick from Samiullah and two goals by Munnawaruz Zaman. The next opponents were Germany and Pakistan prevailed 4-2 in a tough match, before overwhelming Great Britain 6-1 the following day.
Pakistan’s final match was against the Netherlands. Playing in front of a packed stadium with 35,000 people, Pakistan opened the scoring in the 10th minute through Hanif but Litjens equalised for Netherlands in the 39th minute. Pakistan regained the lead in the 40th minute but Litjens again struck back immediately. In the 67th minute Samiullah produced a superb run down the left flank and passed back to Safdar Abbas who scored. The game ended 3-2 in Pakistan’s favour and they headed the seven nation table to retain the Champions Trophy.
The next assignment was the 1980 Moscow Olympics but this was abandoned when along with many other nations Pakistan boycotted the games.
The 1981 Champions Trophy was staged in Karachi. Significantly weakened by the absence of its formidable full back duo of Munnawaruz Zaman and Manzoorul Hasan, Pakistan were beaten by both the Netherlands and Australia and finished fourth.
The team had a very busy schedule for 1982. The World Cup was held in Mumbai in January and Pakistan fielded a strong side led by Akhtar Rasool. In their opening Group A match they crushed Argentina 6-1 and followed this by beating Spain 4-1, courtesy of two Kaleemullah goals. New Zealand were then totally outclassed and routed 12-3. This included a four goal sequence by Hasan Sardar, three goals by Hanif and three penalty corner conversions by Manzoorul Hasan. West Germany were their next opponents and Pakistan led them 2-0 at half time. The second half was more tightly fought and Pakistan finally emerged victorious 5-3, with Samiullah contributing two goals. Pakistan easily beat Poland 4-1 in their final group match and emerged as worthy group winners.
Sadly for the home crowds the hosts India failed to progress beyond the group stage. Pakistan’s semifinal opponents were the Netherlands and Pakistan played superbly to win 4-2. Hanif was outstanding, scoring the first goal himself and having a hand in the remaining three.
In the final, Pakistan again met West Germany. A 5th minute goal by Dopp put Germany ahead, but Pakistan soon began to dominate and equalized in the 25th minute when Hasan Sardar scored off an Akhtar Rasool pass. A minute later Hanif sent Manzoor through with a gap pass and he scored to make it 2-1. In the 40th minute it became 3-1 after a penalty stroke goal by Kaleemullah. Shortly afterwards Pakistan was awarded another penalty stroke but surprisingly the umpire reversed his decision after protests from the German team and the final whistle saw Pakistan victorious by a score of 3-1. The World Cup had been retained.
The Asia Cup was a new event, with the inaugural tournament being staged in Karachi in 1982. The tournament was played on a round robin league basis with seven participating teams. Pakistan was in brilliant form in all their matches scoring fifty one goals in six matches which included a 4-0 win over India. Staying unbeaten, Pakistan added another trophy to their collection.
The Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, Netherlands came next. Pakistan started strongly, smothering West Germany 6-1 and followed this with a comprehensive 5-2 victory over the Soviet Union. From here on problems set in. Despite leading 4-2, Pakistan were held to a 4-4 draw by Australia who scored twice in the last seven minutes of play. There was worse to come in the next game against India when Pakistan who were ahead 3-0 by the 16th minute squandered this lead to lose 5-4. Their final match against Netherlands was a complete disaster as Pakistan were overwhelmed 7-2 and ended up finishing fourth.
The Asian Games in Mumbai was the last major hockey tournament in 1982. Pakistan was captained by Samiullah and placed in Group B. Pakistan had re-discovered their form of the early part of the year and simply overwhelmed their group opponents. They beat China 6-0, South Korea 10-0 and Japan 12-1, to easily top their group. Their semifinal opponents Malaysia were also easily disposed off 2-0.
In the final Pakistan played against India in front of a large, vociferous, partisan crowd. India were awarded a penalty stroke in the 4th minute and their captain Zafar Iqbal scored to put the home team ahead and send the crowd into rapturous delight. Pakistan now stepped up a gear and put on an exhilarating display of attacking hockey.
A brilliant run from Kaleemullah left the outmaneuvered goalkeeper Negi stranded at the top of the ‘D’ and Pakistan equalized. Another Kaleemullah hit was blocked by the goalkeeper but Hanif scored from the deflection and then Manzoor Junior also scored to make it 3-1 for Pakistan at the interval. In the second half Hasan Sardar, who was playing with a thigh sprain, scored from a Samiullah pass and Manzoorul Hasan converted a penalty corner. Hanif scored a second goal and Kaleemullah applied the concluding touch with a penalty stroke goal. The final score was 7-1 in favour of Pakistan who thus retained their Asian Games crown. Indian hockey still remembers this day as Black Wednesday.
The 1983 Champions Trophy was again played in Karachi. Pakistan had comfortable wins against New Zealand, India and West Germany, but defeats against Australia and Netherlands left them in second place.
Having missed the 1980 Olympics, the Pakistan team prepared extensively for 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Led by Manzoor Junior, Pakistan were placed in Pool B. In their opening match against New Zealand they fell behind 1-0, but rallied through three successive goals from Hasan Sardar to lead 3-1. However, they conceded two goals in the last two minutes of play for a final 3-3 score. Next came a 3-0 victory over Kenya, but in their following game against Netherlands Pakistan were soon trailing 2-0, before goals from Khalid Hameed and Hasan Sardar restored parity. Netherlands regained the lead but Manzoor Junior made it 3-3, which was the final score. Next, Pakistan swamped Canada 7-1, including three goals each by Hasan Sardar and Manzoor Junior. Pakistan’s final group match was a goalless draw against Great Britain which left Britain as group winners
Pakistan and Netherlands were now competing for second position in the group and all hinged on the outcome of Netherlands match against Kenya. The Dutch side needed to win by five goals to qualify ahead of Pakistan on goal difference. However, they could only manage a 3-0 win and thus allowed Pakistan to progress to the semifinal.
Pakistan’s semifinal opponents were Australia. In a fast and tight encounter Pakistan scored through Hasan Sardar in the 22nd minute. As Australia desperately tried to equalize the contest became physical and the game had to be stopped thrice because of injuries to Pakistani players. The Australian full back Davies also suffered a facial injury in the process and Pakistan held on to win the encounter 1-0.
Pakistan and West Germany met in the final, reviving memories of the Munich final of 1972. In a close contest the match was goalless at half time. Ten minutes into the second half West Germany scored through Peter and began pressurizing the Pakistani defence. In the 50th minute Hasan Sardar scored off an indirect penalty corner hit, when Qasim Zia passed the ball to him instead of taking a direct hit himself. At the end of normal time the score was locked at 1-1. Extra time was played and in the 82nd minute Kaleemullah scored off a rebound from a penalty corner hit to make it 2-1 for Pakistan. This was also the final score. Pakistan had regained the Olympic crown.
Pakistan were now proud holders of four major titles, namely the World Cup, the Asia Cup, the Asian Games crown and the Olympic Games title. Only the Champions Trophy still eluded their grasp.
Dr Salman Faridi is a senior surgeon, poet, sports aficionado and an avid reader with a private collection of over 7000 books.