Team completes training at Abbottabad


Left wingers Mohamamd Zubair and Ali Shan were dropped from 18-member Pakistan hockey squad named here to take part in the London Olympics starting from July 27. The duo of forwards was dropped following conclusion of a ten-day final leg of training programme which concluded on Sunday at hilly centre Abbottabad.
However, forwards Shakil Abbasi and Rehan Butt were retained in the squad for the London Olympics on Monday. Both players were fined last month for participating in World Hockey Series in India, an event that field hockey’s world governing body refused to sanction.
Midfielder Waseem Ahmad, who was also fined for his participation in the renegade tournament, made the Olympic squad as well.
These two players were axed on the recommendations of the team management which has taken into consideration every aspect before reaching the decision “,said Secretary, Pakistan Hockey Federation, Mohammad Asif Bajwa on Monday.
“The team management has been empowered to choose the playing XI and we have assigned them the task to come up with a combination which is capable in all manners for getting good results in the mega event”, said Secretary PHF.
He said the team will practice at famous Cannock hockey club to gear up for Olympics.” Our team will play three practice matches during the training, one against Cannock club and two against Scotland then moving to London,“ he said adding “The team will play two important practice matches , one against Belgium on July 24 against and Holland on July 26 to fully get in to action before its first match of the Olympics against Spain.”
Pakistan was once recognized as powerhouse in field hockey but only finished eighth at Beijing, its worst ever Olympic placing. Pakistan won gold at the 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympics in hockey.
The PHF fired Michel van den Heuvel as coach in March for violating the federation’s code of conduct, but it was the Dutchmen who guided Pakistan to an automatic Olympic place by winning gold at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Since then, Akhtar Rasool took over the team. In the absence of Abbasi, Butt and Waseem, Pakistan finished last at the recent seven-team Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia.
Pakistan is in Group A at the Olympics with Australia, Britain, Spain, Argentina and South Africa.
Pakistan’s 18-member hockey team has completed its 10-day training camp for the upcoming London Olympics in the northwestern city of Abbottabad, an official said Monday.
The Green-shirts (Pakistani team), after concluding their preparations at home, are now ready to leave for Britain Thursday where they will be engaged in another 10-day training camp at Birmingham.
Pakistan coach and manager Akhtar Rasool Monday told local media the team worked on every aspect of the game during the training sessions and all the players were fit and with high morale.
According to Rasool, Players’ fitness was the main focus during the training camp while the coaches also worked hard to improve penalty-corner conversion, defence and midfield.
The coaching staff also used video analysis for the team’s opponents at Olympics and told players about the possible game plans against them.
“We did everything to improve the players’ game besides focusing on our opponents’ previous performances and moves during the matches,” said Rasool.
During the 10-day camp at Birmingham, the players will have enough time to adjust to the conditions where Olympics will be held.
Pakistani team is likely to play two warm-up matches against Germany and Holland after the Birmingham camp.
July 1, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) announced its 20-member Olympic probable squad which was later trimmed to 18.
Besides retaining penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas as captain of the team, the PHF selectors had also called back senior players Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed.
Pakistan have been struggling to get back its lost glory in the Olympics where it had won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals. The Pakistan hockey team was announced by the National Selection Committee after the approval of President PHF.
PLAYERS: Imran Shah & Imran Butt (Goalkeepers), Muhammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas (Captain), Syed Kashif Shah & Muhammad Imran (Full Backs), Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Muhammad Tousiq & Waseem Ahmed (Half Backs), Muhammad Waqas (Vice-Capt), Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Muhammad Rizwan Senior & Muhammad Umar Bhutta (Forwards)
OFFICIALS: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (Manager/Head Coach), Khawaja Muhammad Junaid (Coach), Ajmal Khan Lodhi (Asstt. Coach), Shahid Ali Khan (Asstt. Coach), Faiz-ur-Rahman (Physiotherapist) & Muhammad Nadeem Khan Lodhi (Video-Analyst).