KARACHI: The Pakistan hockey team will face the might Dutch today in their second and final warm-up ahead of the Olympics.
The Greenshirts lost 2-0 to Belgium on Tuesday which increases the importance of the match against the Netherlands as the team management eyes a good result in order to launch the mega assignment with confidence.
“A good result in a practice match motivates a team,” coach Khwaja Junaid told The Express Tribune. “But there are other things that need to be fixed as well. The teams have to assess the combination, players’ fitness and tactics besides other aspects.”
The match against Belgium – the result was Pakistan’s second loss against the side in the last two months - was divided into three sessions where the Greenshirts wasted four penalty-corners. The Belgians converted the only penalty-corner they won. Junaid, though, said that the goal-less show was not a big concern.
“We actually showed improvement against them as we lost 6-1 in the last outing against Belgium. We created chances which were the positives we took. The Netherlands will come at us with full strength. They are one of the best teams in the world. Victory against them will be a perfect launching pad for us.”
Pakistan will meet Spain in their first Olympics clash on July 30.
Torch lights up Wembley Stadium
The Olympic flame was held aloft at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, two days before its marathon journey around Britain comes to an end with a starring role in the London 2012 opening ceremony.
Gordon Banks, England’s goal-keeper when they won the 1966 football World Cup at Wembley, carried the torch along Olympic Way in front of the national stadium in northwest London. The torch relay is on the 68th day of its 8,000-mile journey around Britain.
British footballers battling apathy
Britain’s footballers are battling widespread apathy about their Olympic campaign but coach Stuart Pearce is convinced it will turn around as soon as the action starts today.
“If I roll the clock back a calendar year, I was fortunate to go with England to Colombia for the under-20s World Cup,” he said. “We played a group match against Argentina in front of 44,000 people. Very few people in England knew there was a tournament going on. That is how we underestimate tournaments.” (with additional input from AFP)
Did you know
The first ever Olympic hockey match was played in London in 1908 when Scotland defeated Germany 4-0
Shahbaz Ahmed, who won bronze with Pakistan in Barcelona 1992, was nicknamed ‘The Man With The Electric Heels’
Pakistan’s Abdul Rashid junior (1968 gold, 1972 silver and 1976 bronze) is one of only three players to have won a complete set of Olympic medals in hockey
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.