Pakistan junior hockey team manager Hanif Khan is expecting the side to win the Junior Asia Cup, which starts in Oman on Tuesday.
Clinching the tournament would also secure the national junior team to secure a spot in the World Cup and Hanif said it was well-prepared to do so. “The boys are well prepared for the Asia Cup after undergoing a rigorous training in the preparatory camp (that ended on Thursday) and they have the potential to qualify for the final and also to win it to reserve a place in the World Cup,” the former Olympian told Dawn a day ahead of the team’s departure for Oman on Thursday.
“The players have improved a lot during the training camp and now they are in the shape that is required for international matches,”
Hanif said the camp focused mainly on the players’ fitness while attacking play was also one of the one of the key areas for preparation.
“The main focus was on fitness as well as to improve the attacking game during the training camp and I believe our purpose has been achieved,” he added.
The Pakistan manager will have one of the members of his staff, Adnan Zakir, unavailable for the Asia Cup, with the coach having to visit London to attend his ailing son.
“Adnan’s role was brilliant in the training sessions and worked hard to bring a visible change in the attitude of the players to remain focused,” said Hanif.
Pakistan are placed in a tough Pool ‘A’, which comprises India, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. Pool ‘B’ features South Korea, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and hosts Oman.
Pakistan kick off their campaign against Taiwan on Tuesday before taking on Thailand the next day and clashing with archrivals India on May 27. Their last pool match will be against Japan on May 29.
Pakistan captain Faizan Janjua also expressed satisfaction over his team’s preparation for the event. He said the guidance of Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans as consultant in the 15-day camp helped himself and his peers to get in shape.
Oltmans will represent Pakistan as their head coach during the Junior Asia Cup.
Squad: Ali Raza, Mohammad Faizan Janjua (captain), Aqeel Ahmad, Arbaz Ahmad, Ihtesham Aslam, Mohammad Sufyan Khan, Arbaz Ayaz, Mohammad Murtaza Yaqoob, Arshad Liaquat, Ali Murtaza, Zakriya Hayat, Abdul Rahman, Abdul Qayyum Dogar, Abdul Hanan Shahid (vice-captain), Abdul Wahab, Basharat Ali, Bilal Akram.