Coach, captain set high targets for the team


The national hockey team cannot achieve its target of the 2014 World Cup without giving its best in the upcoming Asia Cup, said chief coach Akhtar Rasool on the opening day of the camp training of the team here on Monday.
The national hockey training camp for the build up of the team to take part in the Asia Cup commenced here at the National Hockey Stadium with 24 players attending barring one absentee Abdul Haseem Khan. Haseem has not yet informed the camp management regarding his absence, said Akhtar, who is also manager of the team after a strenuous afternoon training session. The Asia Cup will be played from August 24 to September 1, at Ipoh, Malaysia.
“It is a very important event for us and the last chance to qualify for the next year’s Hockey World Cup being played in Holland and we are under immense pressure to revive the sagging fortunate of the team which finished at number seventh place in the eight team Hockey World League Semi-finals in Malaysia last month,” he said.
He said the players attended two training sessions on the opening day of the camp and efforts were made to bring them in right frame of mind after a disastrous hockey league event in which team failed to rise owing to various factors mainly lack of finishing touch and physical fitness. “We need to infuse new confidence in the players to help them overcome the sour memories of the Hockey World League and there is always a room to improve and we are focusing on that important aspect,” said Akhtar.
He said what happened in the HWL is a saga of past now and the team management will be jointly working to utilize the Asia Cup, a last ditch effort to help Pakistan qualify for the World Cup.
“It is a do or die event for us and there is no looking back for us and we are in a very difficult situation of lifting the performance of the team to atone for its previous dismal show,” he asserted.
The chief coach and manager said Pakistan plays spirited Malaysia, South Korea, the two teams which beat in the HWL besides locking horns with arch rivals India and in the given circumstances the tournament becomes extremely tough and only brilliance and collective efforts are leading the green shirts to their ultimate objective of qualifying for the World Cup.
“The team management will be coming up with different strategies and plans to elevate the mental and physical fitness of the players in order to get best out of them during the event,” he said, adding: “Our main aim is to give the players a mind set in which they are without any pressure and are eager to deliver in the right direction and that is why we are arranging special motivation sessions for them to help them regain their lost confidence.”
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan captain Mohammad Imran said that the team has no other option but to win the Asia Cup and qualify for the World Cup. “Its going all out for us in the Asia Cup and all the players have started the camp training with great enthusiasm.
“We have only one target in this camp to train hard to win the Asia Cup and qualify for the World Cup because it is the only chance for us to stay in the hunt,” he maintained.