Experienced forwards Shakeel Abbasi and Muhammad Rizwan Sr were back into the Pakistan squad while Mohammad Imran was retained as captain as the Pakistan Hockey Federation unveiled its 18-member squad for the World Hockey League (WHL) in Malaysia.

The WHL, which starts from June 29 and is a 2014 World Cup qualifying event, will pit Pakistan against England, South Africa and hosts Malaysia in Group ‘B’ while Group ‘A’ will see Argentina, Japan, Germany and Korea fight it out for a top spot. The eight teams will by vying for three spots at the World Cup in the Netherlands.

The other names in the squad include: Mohammad Ateeq, Mohammad Irfan, Khalil Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Imran Butt, Khalid Bhatti, Mohammad Touseeq, Aamir Shahbaz, Abbas Haider, Zubair Ahmed, Mohammad Irshad, Mohammad Shahbaz, Fareed Ahmed, and Umar Bhutta.

“Every match will be crucial for us and we have told the boys that they should play every match like a final,” Pakistan manager Akhtar Rasool said of the event.

He added that all the three teams in their pool are tough and Pakistan will have put in their best to go past them. “I am expecting good show from the forward line and a considerable improvement in the penalty corner conversion.”

“Pakistan have some fine forwards in Shakeel Abbasi, Shafqat Rasool, Waqas Sharif, Rizwan and Haseem Khan while Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Ateeq are good penalty corner strikers. But they must play at their full potential to take the team to the podium,” said Rasool.

The national team will be playing a warm-up game against Germany while Rasool was trying to arrange another practice match ahead of the event to give the players a good workout and match practice.

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