Pakistan’s ACT performance will put pressure on seniors: Junaid
KARACHI: Pakistan’s national hockey team manager Khawaja Junaid said on Tuesday that he was not ruling out the comeback of senior players into the national team provided they proved their form and fitness in the camp.
“Good performance from the younger players in the recent Asian Champions Trophy has created more competition and seniors will have to prove their form and fitness to make a comeback into the team,” he said in an interview on Wednesday upon his return from Ordos, China.
Selection committee headed by ex-Olympian Hanif Khan rested veteran players like goalkeeper Salman Akbar, penalty-corner expert Sohail Abbas and forward Rehan Butt for the ACT and yet Pakistan managed to reach the final of the high-profile event which was decided on penalty-shootout.
“I will present my viewpoint and feedback to the selection committee and the PHF and it is upto them to decide the future of the seniors,” Junaid commented.
“But one thing is clear that now the seniors will have to fight for their places in the team because the youngsters have shown their potential in the event. It now creates more competition among the players for the London Olympics squad,” he stressed.
Coach Junaid described the loss in the final “as sheer bad luck” and said the boys put up a great show. Commenting on the wasted penalty-corners in the regulation time, he admitted that it was unfortunate that the Pakistanis could not get the best out of the corners which came their way.
Junaid said while Shakeel Abbasi and Haseem Khan were outstanding among the forwards, teenagers Ali Shan, and Umer Bhutta showed the spark upfront.
Responding to a question about former Pakistan captain and centre-half Waseem Ahmed, he said he had a good tournament plus young guns Muhammad Rizwan, Kashif Shah and Tausiq also proved their worth. He dispelled the impressions that Pakistan midfield and defence was weak.
The coach expressed hope that Pakistan will be able to develop a pool of players before the next year’s Olympic Games and added that the team’s next assignment in Australia, where they will appear in a 3-nation event in October, will further help the young guns to establish themseveles.—APP