ISLAMABAD. The Secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Asif Bajwa said on Saturday that the national squad has the potential to win the Asia Cup and ensure a berth for the Hockey World Cup.

Pakistan opened its Cup campaign with a 7-0 hammering of Japan on Saturday.

“I am sure our players can beat the best sides in the world since they have the skill and the stamina to do so,” PHF secretary told Dawn.

He maintained that national coach Olympian Tahir Zaman has been assigned the task to prepare the players because “he is the only FIH qualified coach in the country and that is why we have hired him.”

“Tahir has selected the squad independently and is ready to take full responsibility for their performance. For instance, he has hired the services of his choice goalkeeper and has devised his own strategy and is confident that it would help the national squad to qualify for the World Cup,” added the former Olympian.

Pakistan are faced with a do-or-die situation in the Asia Cup, being held in Ipoh, Malaysia, where they will have to win the title in order to qualify for the next year’s FIH Hockey World Cup.

Teams like South Korea, India and Malaysia pose real threat for Pakistan but Bajwa sounded confident about his team’s chances. “Yes, the competition is tough in our pool but I am sure that we will win the title,” claimed Bajwa.

When asked about how things would shape up if Pakistan failed to win the title, Bajwa said: “It will not be the end of the world for national hockey squad. We will be playing the Champions Trophy since the squad has already qualified for the event.”

The 2014 edition of the Champions Trophy would be played in India.

Meanwhile, sports analyst Amir Bilal contested Bajwa’s views and said the chances for the greenshirts to confirm a berth for the FIH hockey World Cup are grim in Ipoh.

“How could you generate results from a coach who has been assigned the duty hardly few months back?” he said.

“On one side we have to win a title since it is a do-or-die thing for the greenshirts. On the other hand the national squad has to maintain its runner-up title as well,” added the sports analyst.

Pakistan were the runner-up of the last edition of the Asia Cup when they lost by a solitary goal against South Korea in the final held in 2009 in Kauntan, Malaysia.

Asked whether luck can play any part in Pakistan victory, Bilal said: “Let’s not confuse skill and stamina with luck in this highly technical game because you have to be prefect in defence, attack and your finishing act to go top.”

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