Junior hockey coach expects team to shine

Pakistan junior hockey coach Khwaja Junaid is banking on the team’s ability to have a controlled game.

Natasha Raheel August 10, 2010

KARACHI: Pakistan junior hockey coach Khwaja Junaid is banking on the team’s ability to have a controlled game and their maturity level to help them shine at the first Summer Youth Olympics.

The Under-16 hockey team is the only squad from Pakistan that has qualified for the tournament, which will take place from August 14 till August 26 in Singapore and features 36,000 athletes from 204 countries, who will participate in 184 events of the 26 disciplines.

“Our hopes are high and it is an honour for my team to qualify for the first Youth Olympics, but the key for us will be making few careless mistakes and our control in the game,” Junaid told The Express Tribune.

“The players are young and in this age they are very unpredictable but they can also make careless mistakes.”

“But in our last phase at the camp, I have worked hard on training them to follow the structure. Since the other five teams are just as young, whichever team makes less careless mistakes wins the match.”

Junaid said that he only feared if the young players could sustain the pressure as this is the first time that the squad is participating in a mega event. However, the coach is confident that captain Syed Kashif Shah and Muhammad Rizwan, goal-keeper Imran Shah, and centreforwards Muhammad Umair and Ahmed Zuber are to look out for and they might even be able to land a signing by European clubs if they emulate their performance at the training camp.

“These players will balance the team because they have experience with the senior team,” said Junaid. The Asian champions will open their campaign against Ghana on August 17 before taking on Chile, Singapore, Australia and Belgium.

The 26-member Pakistan contingent left for the first Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore today. Besides a 17-member hockey squad, Pakistan has also got a wild card entry in taekwondo, swimming and weightlifting events.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2010.


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