In a startling revelation, Pakistan hockey team's sacked manager Asif Bajwa has claimed that the team deliberately lost its World Cup qualifying league match against Poland to avoid hosts France in the final last year.
In an interview to Voice of America (VOA), Bajwa said Pakistan lost the match to ensure smooth qualification to the World Cup which was staged in India last month.
Pakistan finished at the bottom of the points table in the World Cup and the entire team management, including Bajwa, chief coach Shahid Ali Khan and the selection committee were sacked by PHF President Qasim Zia after the disgraceful performance.
Asked how an experienced Pakistan lost its league match to minnows Poland on November 7, 2009 in the qualifying tournament in Lille, France, Bajwa said, "I don't want to justify that defeat but I want to tell you that it was part of the strategy.
"Had Pakistan beaten Poland, Pakistan could face host France in the final that Pakistan wanted to avoid as in that case, France could win and would have qualified for the final rounds of the world cup," he added.
"It was part of our planning, we fielded our second string side in the match in order to ensure that we faced Japan in the final instead of France," Bajwa told the radio station.
Bajwa justified the deliberate under-performance and called it strategy.
"I don't call it match fixing but a strategy and planning. We rested our key players in order to be better equipped in the final against Japan," he explained.
"I am not justifying the defeat and I admit that Pakistan should not have lost but what I am saying is that our planning worked well and we qualified for 2010 World Cup," he said.