Pakistan hockey team, the country’s main medal contender at the London Olympics, has wrapped up a 10-day training camp in Cannock and shifted to the Olympics village.
While the team is yet to get sufficient training on the newly-introduced blue turf, Pakistan coach Khwaja Junaid declared his team ready for the 12-team contest.
The team had left early to take part in a camp in Cannock, a town in the West Midlands region of England, where it held extensive training sessions besides playing three practice games.
Speaking at the camp’s conclusion, Junaid expressed his satisfaction with the preparations of the players.
“We’re pleased that everything is on track,” the coach told The Express Tribune before the team’s departure for London. “We stuck to our plans and focused on our weaknesses. The players are showing improvement in goal-scoring as well as defence. Their fitness levels and speed have enhanced and most importantly, the camp has helped them acclimatise with the weather conditions in England.
“I can say that the Cannock camp which was a succession of the training camp we held in Abbottabad has completed our preparations and we are ready for the Olympics.”
The Olympian added that enthusiasm shown by the team during practice games, which they won, was commendable.
“The team is showing a very good morale. They’re taking the challenge with courage and showed a glimpse of it in the practice games. The team has been told to play every game as the final and they are doing exactly the same.”
Warm-up games against Belgium, Holland
Meanwhile, Pakistan will play a couple of warm-up games against Belgium and Holland before their inaugural match against Spain on July 30.
They will meet Belgium on July 24 before taking on Holland with both matches being held under the International Olympics Council’s (IOC) programme.
“It will also give us ample prac tice on the blue turf. There was no such facility in Cannock and we are looking at these matches as being very important fixtures.”
After the match against Spain, Pakistan will face world champions Australia, hosts Great Britain, Argentina and South Africa in their Pool A matches.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.