We are playing to win, says Pakistan hockey coach

Junaid confident of team’s preparations; wants at least a top-four finish

Our Correspondent April 05, 2016

KARACHI: Pakistan national hockey team coach Khawaja Junaid believes Pakistan have the ability to go all the way in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, scheduled to begin today in Malaysia.

Pakistan have missed the last two editions of the tournament due to a lack of funds and are buzzing to make up in this year’s cup and Junaid remains confident of the blend of senior and junior players.

“This is our first big assignment of the year and we want to start on a winning note. The team that we have assembled, despite having some inexperienced players, is strong enough to at least finish in the top four,” Junaid told The Express Tribune.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Mehmood, Rizwan included in hockey squad

Seven teams, defending champions New Zealand, hosts Malaysia, Australia, India, Japan, Canada and Pakistan, are participating in the event and Junaid believes the Greenshirts should comfortably defeat Canada, Japan and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, skipper Mohammad Irfan, who will be leading the side for the first time, admits that while captaincy has increased the pressure on him, he is looking forward to leading the national side in an international tournament.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: PHF changes coaching staff for tournament

“We missed the last edition due to some issues but are lucky to be able to participate this year,” Irfan told The Express Tribune. “I’m already feeling the pressure of being a captain but I am really looking forward to lead the team in Malaysia. It’s a dream come true. We have young players in the squad, but the coaches have been brilliant in setting up the training routines and now we just have to translate those skills in the field.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.

Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.