KARACHI: Former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh has urged the national hockey team management not to consider the Azlan Shah Cup a tournament only for experiments but instead, aim to win the event in Malaysia.
The team management, headed by chief coach Akhtar Rasool, made four changes for the event, bringing in new players – Tasawwar Abbas, Amir Shahzad, Imran Junior and Irfan Junior – and resting seasoned campaigners including Shakeel Abbasi and Waseem Ahmad besides Rashid Mehmood and Rizwan Senior. The team management felt the six-nation tournament will be a good chance to test youngsters.
Rasool said he would not claim the team will win the Azlan Shah Cup but hoped for a good show.
However, legendary Olympian Shehnaz expressed discontent on the resolve of the team management for the test.
“This tournament is very important for the greenshirts,” Shahnaz told The Express Tribune. “It’s not a good attitude and the coaches must set winning the cup as the target for players.
“Such a statement that we are not targeting the title will make the players complacent. We are happy with the inclusion of fresh players but winning the title should be made a priority for them. When I say the title is important, it means we need to show consistency. If we want to regain our lost glory in hockey, we’ll have to win tournaments regularly.”
He also criticised the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for ruing the lack of funds as the team prepared for the tournament.
“The federation should avoid such statements when the team is training for an international tournament as it distracts the players. This PHF received the fund that no other set-up received in the past.
“It was higher than any other sports body in the country and I feel it wasn’t managed properly.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2013.