The national hockey team management has hinted it will not make wholesale changes for the Asia Cup as it retained all the senior players in its 25-man preliminary squad for the all-important tournament.
Four-time champions Pakistan are on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time; only a title-winning triumph in next month’s Asia Cup could ensure a place for the Greenshirts in next year’s world event in the Netherlands.
According to coach Tahir Zaman, the best available lot will be taken to Malaysia for the crucial tournament that starts from August 24.
In a positive development, seasoned campaigner Waseem Ahmed has been named in the preliminary squad after he missed the Hockey World League (HWL) due to an accident. Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Imran and Irfan Senior have been retained as well. Rashid Mehmood and Fareed Ahmed have also recovered from their respective injuries in time to be named for the Asia Cup squad.
The management extended the tally of goal-keepers, adding the junior team’s Mazhar Abbas to the pool that included Imran Shah and Imran Butt.
The players will assemble in Lahore on July 21 for the training camp to prepare for the tournament.
Teamwork key to success: coach
Zaman said an overall improvement was needed in the team which he will work on during the training camp.
“We’ll emphasise on bringing efficacy in short-corners, attacks and goal-keeping,” the coach told The Express Tribune.
“Fitness is definitely the key as modern hockey cannot be played without it. My main aim is to teach players about structured and disciplined hockey.
“What I observed as a consultant during the HWL is that we played well in patches but consistency was missing. I am attempting to make players efficient throughout the game even if the camp has to be extended.”
Zaman, a qualified International Hockey Federation (FIH) coach, added that there was also a need to stress the importance of team work.
“We are still depending on individuals but I will try to bring coordination among them which is vital.”
Hanif ready to tussle with PHF
With the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) already facing the wrath of former Olympians, sacked Hanif Khan is also set to launch a tirade against the federation on his removal as coach of the national team.
The Olympian said his removal was a result of a conspiracy against him.
“I will reveal the truth at a press conference tomorrow [today]. The PHF officials are not working for the progress of the game, they only care about their vested interest,” he said.
Hanif is also likely to join the campaign of anti-PHF Olympians for the removal of the current officials as he was invited by his former teammates for the purpose.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.
Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.