KARACHI: National hockey team captain Muhammad Imran believes that India, who bagged a silver at the Commonwealth Games, will be their toughest opponents at the 17th Asian Games, that will kick off in September.
The full-back was speaking on the sidelines of the training camp for the continental Games, whose third phase started on Tuesday.
“We missed out on the Commonwealth Games, which is a huge loss for us as we didn’t get a chance to gain experience playing with international teams,” Imran told The Express Tribune.
Imran was part of the gold-medal winning Pakistan at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
“India, South Korea and Malaysia were our strongest competitors in the last edition of the Games, but this time India seem a bigger threat than any other team.”
However, Imran is also confident about the players being trained under head coach Shahnaz Sheikh.
“After watching the performance of the players at the training camp, I feel optimistic that Pakistan can defend their title that we won four years ago in Guangzhou,” said Imran.
“The training programme that Sheikh has planned is producing really good results, especially for the youngsters who will face international players for the first time,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sheikh said that the third phase of the camp will include three steps; finalising skills learned in the last two sessions, international tours and selection of the final sixteen players.
“All the probables have been trained equally during the last two phases,” said Sheikh. “Now whoever
performs well will be picked by the selection committee in the presence of the Pakistan Hockey Federation officials.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.
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