Traditional approach still works for us: Junaid

Pakistan hockey manager says team needs to test new players.

Express August 24, 2011

LAHORE: Olympian and Pakistan hockey team manager Khwaja Junaid admitted that the Greenshirts were relying on traditional strategies to counter their opponents but said that the tried-and-tested approach was still effective despite Europe’s reign in the sport.

Pakistan have come under criticism for their tactical approach, where they have attempted a long-hit goal, and have suffered against European teams. However, the manager said that this was not a weakness.

“This game has no doubt become a modern one,” Junaid told The Express Tribune. “But a traditional approach is still effective. Under the Dutch coach [Michel van Heuvel] we are going through a journey of significant improvement in both technical and tactical skills.”

He added that the team was now overcoming all their flaws and are adopting different tactics against different oppositions.

“Most European teams are disciplined but predictable,” said Junaid. “We might concede goals through but in recent months we have overcome our weaker spot. We have to adopt a different approach against different teams but the common aspect is to remain disciplined and execute the plan.”

Pakistan depart on August 28 for China to take part in the Asian Champions Trophy under the captaincy of Mohammad Imran but with a new-look side and several senior players including Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi and goal-keeper Salman Akbar missing out.

Junaid said that this was the perfect time to test the team’s bench strength.

“We’ve been relying on our senior players and weren’t able to test our future prospects. So this championship is an opportunity for new players to show their skills. The seniors are equally important but we have emerging players who need to be given confidence to establish themselves.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th,  2011.