PIC: Pakistan players at the 15th Doha Asian Games in 2006.
The Squad selected for Lille is: Zeeshan Ashraf (captain), Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmed, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmed, Sajjad Anwar, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Rashid, Rehan Butt, Shakil Abbasi,Haseem Khan, Abbas Haider, Akhtar Ali, Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Mohammad Zubair.
ISLAMABAD: National Hockey team coach Shahid Ali Khan as well as two other former stars Wednesday sounded confident of record four-times winners Pakistan’s chances in the upcoming World Cup qualifying tournament in France, though all three of them cautioned the national team against repeating past mistakes.
The three of them—Shahid, Shehnaz Shaikh and Hassan Sardar- -said the team would need to produce its best form to win the qualifying tournament and thus seal a place for the final round of the World Cup to be played at New Delhi, India in February-March next year.
Only the winner of the October 31-November eight qualifying tournament at Lille , France will win a ticket for the final round for which nine teams have already qualified.
International Hockey Federation is holding qualifying tournaments in France and also in New Zealand and Argentina with winner of each competition to advance to the final round in New Delhi.
Coach Shahid Ali Khan said that a sound strategy has been devised for the upcoming qualifying round, adding the team will adopt an aggressive style.
Talking to media, he said, ‘I see no reason for our team not to win the tournament, but there is no room for mistakes.’
Shahid Ali Khan said, ‘our performance in matches will show how much we have succeeded in checking our mistakes,’ adding that focus is also being laid on strong defense and variation in penalty corner drills during the training session.
Meanwhile, former Olympian and coach Shehnaz Sheikh expressed his optimism about the performance of team in the qualifying round.
He told APP that competition is pretty tough in qualifying round as each team will want to join top 12 teams for the World Cup.
Shehnaz Sheikh said that both physical and mental strength will be necessary as the team will play in freezing temperature of around 4°C.
‘Historically we haven’t performed well in colder climates so it will be a real test of endurance.’
‘The Pakistani players attack in ‘diagonal’ fashion—a style which not only yields goal scoring opportunities for opponent teams, tends to exhaust the players faster.’
Chief Selector Pakistan Hockey team, Hassan Sardar said his team has capability to easily win qualifying round and thus book a berth for the World Cup.
‘It is a talented team with a combination of senior and young players, and has the potential to overcome any team,’ said the leading goal-scorer of his time.
He said, teams like France, Russia and Poland play in conventional European style which, ‘can create problems, but Pakistani team can beat them.’
It may be recalled that Pakistan failed to seal an automatic place for in the final round of the World Cup after it lost to South Korea in the final of Asia Cup earlier this year.
Pakistan have won record four World Cup titles—1971 in Spain, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1978), Mumbai (1982) and Sydney (1994).