KARACHI: Pakistan hockey team got first taste of the blue Astroturf as it prepared for the opening match of the Azlan Shah Cup and coach Khwaja Junaid said that the players will ‘obviously’ need time to adapt to the faster and bouncier surface as he gave his initial assessment.
The Greenshirts, currently in Ipoh, Malaysia for the tournament that starts on May 24, held an extensive training session for more than two hours at the blue turf.
Getting a command over the new surface is the big question in field hockey circle these days as it will also be used in this year’s London Olympics.
While world champions Australia and India have criticised the surface, three-time Olympic gold medallists Pakistan gave a positive response on the nature of the turf.
“Players looked a bit uncomfortable but not much,” Junaid told The Express Tribune from Ipoh. “Apart from being more fast and bouncy, there was some vision problem as well. We’re used to playing on the green turf with a white ball but now it’s like a blue base with yellow ball. So definitely the players felt the change.
“The other thing is that on a speedy hit, there’s more bounce to the ball which is creating problems in stopping it. But there’s no major difference and I’m a bit satisfied since we heard a lot of bad things about it and now that we’ve experienced it ourselves, it’s alright.”
‘More practice needed badly’
However, Junaid, who was a part of the 1984 Los Angeles Games gold-medal winning team, insisted that the team needs a lot of practice to get used to the surface.
“We don’t have major complaints but we need a lot of practice on it. It’s like replacing an old engine with a super-charged one and you need practice to get control of it.
However, Junaid hoped the team will adapt to the change before the London Games.
“The players showed a positive attitude today and did not look too affected in training. By getting more practice they will be better prepared for the Olympics.”
Pakistan are scheduled to meet Argentina in their opening game on May 24.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.
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