LAHORE: Pakistan hockey team coach Muhammad Saqlain thinks the team requires two to three years under new coach Roelant Oltmans to produce better results and win big tournaments.
Saqlain, who is working with Oltmans, said that the new head coach has been successful in improving the game of the team and if they keep on working on the forward line, penalty corners, and player’s fitness then the time is not far when Pakistan will once again be included in one of the top teams of the world.
He also said that the former Olympians will have to sacrifice their personal interest in the favour of national interest. If they are worried about the declining state of hockey in Pakistan then they should improve the state of the game by working with the under-16 and in the player development programs.
“It has been only five months after this new management took responsibility of the team. Despite that, the national team is improving day by day. The fitness level of the players has increased by 50 per cent,” Saqlain told Daily Express.
“In the past we have been losing the matches against teams like Australia and India by big margins, but now we play neck to neck against them. Recently, we defeated Olympic champions Argentina, defeated Malaysia 4-1, drew against Belgium and also played well against India.”
He however said that a few things still need to be worked upon. “Like in some important matches at the Asian Games the forward line couldn’t score goals. In the semi-final and position matches the team received eight penalty corners but couldn’t convert into goal.”
“If we succeed in improving the forward line, penalty corner conversion rate and fitness of players then time is not far when once again we will be one of the top teams,” he added.
He then accepted that the team didn’t attack enough in the semi-final match against Japan.
“We don’t have any back up. We had to take the captain of the junior team with us at the Asian Games who also didn’t perform as per our expectations.”
Saqlain said that being the former captain and coach of the team, he is observing each and every team in the world and if the team keeps on doing the same hard work they will succeed.
“Oltmans is one of the top coaches in the world and if he stays with the team for two to three years then Pakistan can win big tournaments in coming years,” he concluded.