KARACHI: Former hockey Olympian and Pakistan team’s goalkeeping coach Ahmed Alam on Tuesday said the green-shirts were preparing well and getting acclimatised to the Australian conditions for the upcoming Champions Trophy.
“The boys are going through extensive training and are also adapting to the Australian conditions ahead of the Champions Trophy,” said Ahmed.
He further said the team, after claiming a bronze medal in the nine-a-side international hockey tournament that recently concluded in Perth, were confident of doing well in the premier eight-team event.
“The [Perth] tournament has provided a base for the team to adapt to the Australian conditions and gain momentum,” Ahmed said.
The Champions Trophy will be played in Melbourne from Dec 1 to 9. Apart from Pakistan and hosts Australia, Belgium, England, India, Germany, Netherlands and New Zealand will also participate.
Ahmed said that the team now have a good understanding of the three teams in their group which could prove to be an advantage.
“We have already faced them in Perth so we would have a better understanding of their strength and weaknesses,” he said.
“We will face only Australia in round matches but after that, we may come across England and India,” said Ahmed.
The nine-a-side tournament was contested by Pakistan, Australia, England and India. Australia clinched the title by beating England in the final. Pakistan grabbed third place after beating India in the play-off.
However, the ninth-ranked Pakistan lost all of the three round matches in the tournament which could be a point of concern for the team management.
But Ahmed insisted that the players’ morale is high and they are ready to face the challenge ahead.
“The management and the players are all hopeful about putting up a strong show in the tournament. The team will go into the tournament with a positive frame of mind,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Olympian Samiullah contradicted Ahmed’s claim and said the ground realities prove that things were just the opposite.
“I want to see Pakistan clinch the title but the ground realities prove otherwise. Realistically speaking, I see Pakistan and India fighting for seventh spot in the tournament,” remarked Samiullah candidly.
He reckoned the other competing teams were very tough and there were little chances for Pakistan to even make it to the third place on the podium.
“All of the teams participating in the Champions Trophy, except Pakistan and India, are in great form. Even a world number eight team like Belgium will be difficult to beat for Pakistan as I see it,” Samiullah remarked.—PPI