The Pakistan Hockey Federation has brought in four new faces for the Azlan Shah Cup to strengthen the bench strength and rested four of thr senior players.
The Azlan Shah Cup has four new faces and the team management is hopeful to get decent results in the event being played from March 9-17 in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The fresh legs included in the 18-member squad are half line players Amir Shahzad, Tasawar Abbas and forward Irfan Junior and Mohammad Imran Jr, said Akhtar Rasool Chaduahry, manager and chief coach of the team at a press conference here on Saturday at National Hockey Stadium.
Coaches Hanif Khan and Ajmal Lohdi were also present on the occasion.
The team chief coach said the two senior players Shakeel Abbasi and former captain Wasim Ahmed have been given rest in order to test the abilities of new players. Rizwan Sr, and Mohammad Rashid who preferred playing league abroad rather joining the national camp were not considered and the team management have sent a compliant against them to the Pakistan Hockey Federation.
To a question Akhtar refused to predict teams chances on reaching victory podium and rather said: “We are working hard on improving teams performance and we are confident to get decent results,”
“I don’t want to make tall claims regarding teams reaching the victory stand but one thing is very clear that we are going there with a high aim to show consistency keeping in mind our title victory in Asian Champions Trophy in Doha December last.
Akhtar Rasool said the four new players are the produce of the junior team and the team management has taken Azlan Shah Cup as an event to test the talent of new players for building the team for future needs.
“We want to give rest to some senior players because Azlan Shah is the only tournament ahead of us to gauge the potential of new players as we will be playing a number of important tournaments afterwards and there are lesser chance to induct new faces,” he asserted.
The former Pakistan captain said he has faith in new comers and he believes they will be justifying their inclusion by putting up their best in the Azlan Shah Cup in which worlds best teams will be playing.
He said team management is making changes in the side keeping in view the future assignments including next year’s World Cup and 2015 Olympics.
Hanif Khan said he was not afraid of criticism and he is fully satisfied on the selection of the team. “We are going to try new players and at this stage it is difficult to say how they will perform but hopefully they will live upto the expectations,” he added.
Goalkeepers: Imran Butt, Imran Shah
Fullbacks: Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Imran (captain), Muhammad Atiq
Halfbacks: Rizwan Jr, Farid Ahmed, Amir Shahzad, Muhammad Tauseeq, Tasawar Abbas
Forwards: Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Haseem Khan, Mohammad Imran Jr, Ali Shah, Muhammad Suleman, Kashif Ali and Irfan Jr.
Seven stand byes are: Khalid Butt, Kashif Shah, Sabtain Raza, Muzammal Bhatti, Muhammad Suleman, Arslan and Dilbar.