We're not going for gold: Hockey captain

Imran wants to end up with best combination, not the trophy.

Express August 25, 2011

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran is seeking to find his best possible line-up on the field as opposed to winning the event as the Asian Games gold medallists prepare to take part in the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy from September 3.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has omitted senior players including short-corner specialist Sohail Abbas, experienced striker Rehan Butt and seasoned goal-keeper Salman Akber, to pave way for youngsters for the event. Imran, who led Pakistan in the last few assignments following Zeeshan Ashraf's self-enforced break, has supported the inclusion of youngsters, arguing that winning the event was not the team's only aim.

"We are not going in to win," Imran told The Express Tribune. "Failure in the Asian Games was not an option so we went in full strength. However, the Asian Champions Trophy is not that important and our main task will be to find a good team combination rather than going for gold."

The captain expected the same feeling from all the other participants as well keeping in mind December's Champions Trophy and next year's Olympics.

'Resting seniors became inevitable'

Imran, though, felt that the team will miss its senior players but it was equally important to include youngsters in the squad.

"We are going to miss the experience of Rehan, Sohail and Salman but seniors, including myself, can't play forever. We won't be able to find a lot of young talent if we don't give them a chance and keep on including the seniors because of the fear of missing them.

"The new players have made their way into the squad by performing well at junior level. They are working hard and will excel in the event."

The squad wrapped up its training camp at the Naseer Bunda Stadium in Islamabad where the players underwent training under head coach Michel Van Dan Heuvel.

The team is scheduled to leave for the tournament on August 29 while Heuvel, who left for Holland after the training camp, will join the players in China.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th,  2011.

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