One of the most versatile hockey playing countries in the world, Pakistan has won the Gold medal in Olympics thrice starting from 1960. The 1960 Olympics hockey gold medal win is memorable because they defeated the winning streak of India. Since then hockey in Pakistan has evolved and even become larger than life in stature.
Before entering the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, Pakistan had already tasted victory in the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games where they got the gold medal defeating arch rivals India. The 1960 Olympic men’s hockey team had retained the same team barring a few players from the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games winning team. Eight of the players had played in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games final against India and this is where they had also won their first ever Olympic medal.
In the 1960 Olympics, the team players knew that this was probably their last shot at Gold as they were ageing. The 1960 Olympics Pakistan hockey team was led by Abdul Hameed Hameedi who was incidently the lone survivor from the 1948 London Olympics. Hameedi had a strong influence on the team and he had made certain interesting and strategic changes like replacing Zafar Ahmad Khan by Zafar Hayat at the penultimate moment. The manager of the team was Ali Iqtidar Shah (AIS) Dara, who was the coach of the 1956 Olympics squad.
Pakistan started their hunt for gold in the 1960 Olympics in a cavalier fashion and beat the super-strong and fit Australians by 3-0. It was a strong match and Pakistan started scoring only in the last 15 minutes. Poland was next and was pulverized 8-0 while Japan got thrashed by a 10-0 margin. The quarter-final saw Pakistan in a battle of nerves with West Germany and on top of that they missed the services of full-back Munir Dar although substitute Basheer Ahmad did a fine job.
Pakistand opened their score sheet with Abdul Waheed, one of the best centre forwards of all time but Germany equalized within a short span. Finally, the winning goal was netted by Naseer Bunda, the left-in. Pakistan went on to win the semi-final against Spain by a 1 goal margin scored by full-back Manzoor Hussain Atif. Then came the D-Day – the finals!
It was India with their 6 consecutive wins versus Pakistan who was hungry for their first ever win. The green shirts went on with an all-out attack. Through the entire tournament, the main strategy of Pakistan was employing the right trio of Ghulam Rasool Chaudhry, Hameedi and Noor Alam. As the clock ticked away, Hameedi slipped the ball to Noor Alam in the 13th minute. Noor Alam found left-in Naseer Bunda, who flicked the ball onto the left side of the Indian goalkeeper. This was the all important goal as it announced Pakistan’s arrival into the world of hockey!
Pakistan had outclassed, out-spirited and out-sprinted every team that came in its way and scored 25 magnificent goals to etch their name in Olympic history.