Pakistan's Abdul Haseem Khan and Sardar Singh vie for the ball during the bronze-medal match at the FIH Champions Trophy 2012 in Australia. Pakistan and India will face off once again in the Asian Champions Trophy on December 24 in Doha, Qatar.  – File photo by AP
Pakistan's Abdul Haseem Khan and Sardar Singh vie for the ball during the bronze-medal match at the FIH Champions Trophy 2012 in Australia. Pakistan and India will face off once again in the Asian Champions Trophy on December 24 in Doha, Qatar. – File photo by AP

Indian hockey team’s Australian coach Micahel Nobbs has tagged Pakistan as favourites for the Asian Champions Trophy 2012, which gets underway in Qatar on Thursday.

Pakistan, who beat India in the bronze-medal match of the recently-concluded FIH Champions Trophy in Australia, are the top-ranked side in the six-nation tournament.

“Pakistan are clearly the favourites for this tournament,” Nobbs said while speaking to reporters at the Doha International Airport upon his team’s arrival in Qatar.

The Indian coach insisted that the experienced players in Pakistan’s squad would help the Greenshirts dominate.

“Both teams (India and Pakistan) are playing after coming straight from a tough tournament, but Pakistan have some great players like Shakeel Abbasi and Waseem Ahmed, between them they have around 600 games. We have Sardar (Singh) who has figured in 150 matches,” he said, while comparing both teams.

In the most anticipated match of the group stages, Pakistan will face India on Monday, December 24 at 9:00pm PST.

Pakistan’s 18-member squad, along with six officials, including the manager and the coach, also reached Doha early Thursday.

Speaking to reporters prior to the team’s departure, Head Coach Akhtar Rasool said that the team’s morale was very high after their podium finish at the Champions Trophy and they would “perform well to fulfil the people’s expectations.”

India, meanwhile, are the defending champions after winning the first edition of the tournament in China, where they beat Pakistan in a penalty shootout.

Apart from the South Asian giants, China, Malaysia, Japan and Oman are the other participating nations in the eight-day tournament, which will be played at Al-Rayyan Hockey Stadium.

The Greenshirts, winners of the world title for a record four times, have leapt from the ninth place to fifth in the latest rankings released by FIH after the bronze-medal finish in Australia.

Schedule of the Asian Champions Trophy 2012: December 20 Malaysia vs Japan India vs China Pakistan vs Oman

December 21 India vs Japan Pakistan vs China Malaysia vs Oman

December 23 Japan vs China India vs Oman Pakistan vs Malaysia

December 24 Japan vs Oman China vs Malaysia Pakistan vs India

December 26 China vs Oman Pakistan vs Japan Malaysia vs India

December 27 Fifth-placed team vs Sixth-placed team Fourth-placed team vs Third-placed team Second-placed team vs First-placed team [Final]

Comments (4) (Closed)


Mandeep
Dec 18, 2012 10:04pm
I would say India is favourites. Pakistan had to struggle a lot to managa a narrow victory in the champions trophy and this time India could turn the table.
skeptic
Dec 18, 2012 05:44pm
go for it boys,don't take your momentum for granted and nail this one.
Raja Shehzad Zaman
Dec 18, 2012 04:02pm
In the article it is mentioned that Pakistan will play India on Monday Dec 24th while in the schedule that clash is listed on Dec 26th. Which one is correct? December 26 [17:00 PST] Japan vs Oman [19:00 PST] China vs Malaysia [21:00 PST] Pakistan vs India Thanks.
Ahmad - Aus
Dec 18, 2012 02:54pm
Why no Korea?