Pakistan Wins Gold Medal in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Men’s Hockey

After winning the 1968 Olympic Gold, Pakistan went through a dry patch of 16 years before coming back to win the gold in the 1984 Olympics. The national team in spite of having won the world cup and the Asian games gold medal were not considered favorites of the 1984 Olympics. They were unable to find suitable replacements for the two legends: left-out Samiullah and centre-half Akhtar Rasool. At the same time, two of their top players right-out Kaleemullah and left-in Haneef Khan were ageing. Bu the worst was that the team was implicated in smuggling once they came back home from a 10-nation hockey tournament in December 1983.

So it was time to get someone capable enough of getting the Olympic Gold back and Brigadier Manzoor Hussain Atif was called in. Atif had helped the Pakistan side to lift the 1982 World Cup as well as their last Olympic gold in 1968 Mexico Olympics.

One of the things he started to work on immediately was the conceding of too many goals through penalty corners. Atif trained both the goalkeepers of the national team: Moinuddin and Shahid Ali Khan and Moinuddin became the first choice due to his height and long strides. After studying how the Australian team played, Atif came to the conclusion that they used to make sudden forays or attacks into the Pakistani half. Most of the attacks were from the right side and included as many as 7 players. In order to counter the attack, Atif created a strategy called nipping in the bud where Australian forwards and attackers would be marked.

In the opening match of 1984 Olympics, Pakistan in spite of being ahead 3-1 ended up drawing the match. The second game saw Pakistan beat the underdogs Kenya by 3-0 but then it was followed by another 3-3 draw against Netherland. Meanwhile the team had their own problems as their right-winger Kaleemullah was completely off-form. The management had to take a brave decision of dropping him and the replacement was Saleem Sherwani.

In their next match against Canada, Sherwani bedazzled and for the first time the true potential of the Pakistani forward line was in full display. They won the match 7-1. The next match was against Britain and Pakistan missed 11 penalty corners and a few chances for field goals. The match ended in a draw. Finally, it was time to play the Australians and Kaleemullah was recalled. The team played according to a plan and nullified most of the Australian attacks. But that day, a hero was born – Hasan Sardar. A native of Karachi, Hasan Sardar still holds the record of 11 goals in the Olympics. Pakistan defeated the favorites 1-0 to go into the final where they were up against West Germany.

 

The first goal was scored by Germany through a penalty corner but Pakistan equalized through Hasan Sardar. It was one of those finals that went into extra time and the winning goal was scored by Kaleemullah. Pakistan were Olympic Champions for the third time!

 

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