LAHORE: The manager of the Pakistan hockey team, Khawaja Mohamamd Junaid has blamed lack of experience on part of the young players as the key reasons for his team's defeat to India in the final of Asian Champions trophy in China. “Theses are the two major factors which let the team down in the final despite doing well in the league matches,” he told APP on Thursday.
While analyzing the overall showing of the team in the event, the team official had full praise for the young guns and termed them the “future of Pakistan hockey”.
“If we look at the formation of the team, seven players are new comers with very little international experience and exposure and in such circumstances reaching the final is a big achievement which we should acknowledge to encourage our young guns,” he asserted.
The former Pakistan captain, while focusing on the performance of the team in the final against India, said in the eight five minutes play (seventy minute full time and fifteen minutes extra time) the Green Shirts controlled the game which was evident from their persistent penetration in the Indian circle and earning as many as nine short corners.
“The young players could not avail the corners mainly due to lack of experience and international exposure,” he said.
“Then came the penalty shoot out stage in which we ran out of luck because our players could not exhibit at par conversion,” he maintained.
Junaid said that with the passage of time and learning these players will make amends to lift the level of their game to become future assets of Pakistan hockey.
“They are at the beginning of their international hockey career and expecting performing wonders from day one is not fair as they need time and grooming to blend themselves into future stars of Pakistan hockey,” he said.
He rejected that goalkeeper Imran Shah was responsible for Pakistan's defeat in the penalty shoot out.
“I don’t agree as he did a wonderful job under the bar and in a penalty shoot out a major factor which also counts is luck which we did not have on that particular day ,” said the team manager.
Junaid said Pakistan’s team has improved a lot in defence as in the past a fragile defence was always a long standing problem of the team.
“Indian team could not make any impression in Pakistani circle as the defence adopted a strategy of ‘individual pressing’ by giving lesser space or gaps to the rival players.
“Due to our solid defence we conceded a lone short corner in the final for that we must give credit to our players”.
Junaid said he was not disappointed with the showing of the team as it reached the final.
“Our hockey progress graph is following an upward trend as we have started reaching finals of majority of the tournament which indicates the start of new young hockey culture to help achieve lost glory.”