LONDON: The Pakistan hockey team management on Saturday trimmed their 18-member squad to 16 for the Olympics, sidelining goalkeeper Imran Butt and full-back Syed Kashif Shah.
However, both Imran and Kashif will remain with the national squad in the Olympic Village as standbys.
Pakistan — the 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympic hockey gold medalists — begin their campaign with opener against Spain on Monday.
Sources said head coach Akhtar Rasool wanted to include former captain and full-back Mohammad Imran in the final 16-member line-up.
Moreover, Imran Butt’s omission from the 18-member squad was expected. Sources told Dawn that Akhtar was in favour of including an experienced player like Imran in the final line-up instead of Kashif. Therefore, chief selector Hanif Khan along with other selectors backed the choice of head coach.
Interestingly, there had been rumours that some differences had developed at national team’s camp in London over selection of the final line-up. However, later it was decided in the national interest to give full weight to Akhtar’s proposal.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan team practised at the Olympic Park. Currently, the team’s morale does not seem to be high — that is understandable after the green-shirts lost their warm-up matches against Belgium (0-2) and the Netherlands (1-5).
Still, an upbeat coach Khawaja Junaid claimed the team had learnt from their mistakes during the warm-up matches, adding the boys were fit and gradually coming in the right shape for the Olympics.
“A good start against Spain will be a big boost for the boys. We will try to go all out to win this opening match,” Junaid remarked.
Meanwhile, a member of the selection committee Arshad Chaudhry who is in London, said different options were discussed for the selection of the final 16-member line-up before consensus was developed in this regard.
Imran Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas (captain), Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Rizwan Jr, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Mohammad Tousiq, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammad Waqas (vice-captain), Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Rizwan Senior, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt. Standbys: Kashif Shah, Imran Butt.