KARACHI: As the Pakistan team prepares for the Hockey World League to be held in Johor Bahru from June 29 to July 7, head coach Akhtar Rasool is confident that the players’ fitness will not be a factor in any potential losses in the event.
Ex-Olympians have often cited ‘below-par fitness’ as the reason for the string of failures plaguing the national hockey team. The observation comes after witnessing Pakistan playing well in the first session, but giving way to fatigue in the second-half which costs them victory.
However, Rasool said the concern has been removed to an extent, stating that his coaching panel has worked on the aspect closely and the players have now reached the required rate of fitness.
“I can say the team will be seen in complete rhythm throughout the tournament,” Rasool told The Express Tribune.
“We have been working on the players’ fitness with a plan. We continued with it in the Abbottabad camp and repeated fitness tests of players which have been reassuring.”
The former captain was speaking on the sidelines of the second phase of the team’s training camp that kicked off at the Hockey Club of Pakistan in Karachi yesterday.
Apart from the earlier announced probables, five players from the junior team, including Mohammad Tauseeq and Umar Bhutta also joined the camp. The training will continue till June 23, while the final squad will be named a day before the camp’s conclusion.
Hosts Malaysia, Germany, England, and South Korea are the other teams targeting the top three positions to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, the head coach expressed satisfaction over captain Mohammad Imran’s performance, who also replaced the world’s leading goal-scorer Sohail Abbas as drag-flick specialist for penalty-corners.
“Abbas has served the country many times and his services will always be remembered. But Imran is doing a decent job in his absence.”
Waseem suffers injury scare
Seasoned campaigner Waseem Ahmed was the only absentee on the opening day.
According to Rasool, the former captain had a road accident on the way from Abbottabad.
“Unfortunately, Waseem has injured his shoulder. We still have around a couple of weeks until the start of the tournament. We expect that he will be fit before our departure.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.
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