Friday, October 23, 2009

Winning combination, not win

NATIONAL hockey coach Tai Beng Hai is looking for a winning combination, rather than a win in the five test series against World No 2 Australia.
Malaysia lost the first test 3-1, the second 5-1 and held the Aussies 3-3 in the third test in Kuantan on Thursday.
Today, the Australians will be looking to seal the series with their third win at the Tun Razak Stadium, while Beng Hai will continue experimenting leading to the World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand on Nov 7-15.
The shifting of players' positions and trying out younger aspirants are necessary, as Beng Hai shuts the door on the experienced players that he dropped from the training squad.
"I am happy with what I have and will not recall players who have withdrawn and those who have been dropped from the training squad for the qualifier.
"We must look forward as there is not much time leading to our most important target which is the qualifier," said Beng Hai.
The coach's stand has firmly closed any avenue for appeal from Ismail Abu, who withdrew from training after he was caught playing truant from weights training.
"I will place my trust on those who have been training diligently for the qualifier, otherwise I will be sending the wrong signal, by condoning indiscipline," said Beng Hai.
Australia are in the midst of preparing for the Champions Trophy in Melbourne on Nov 28-Dec 6. However, they are in Malaysia without nine first choice players, and out of the 22, 12 have less than 20 caps.
"I know that the fans are looking for a win but I can't afford to push my players to the limit so close to the qualifier.
"I am worried about players picking up injuries, and as I have said before, the five matches are a great avenue for me to test borderline cases, and if we secure a win in the process, it will be an added bonus," said Beng Hai.

FOURTH TEST 24/10/09: Malaysia v Australia (5.30pm, Tun Razak Stadium).
FIFTH TEST 25/10/09: Malaysia v Australia (5.30pm, Tun Razak Stadium).

Pakistan confident of Lille gold

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).