LAHORE: Pakistan stalwarts Waseem Ahmed and Shakeel Abbasi have been named amongst the 25 probables invited to the national team’s training camp to select the team for the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March.
The call-up for the duo is the strong indication that the national team management headed by Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary still has faith in the experience that Waseem and Shakeel bring to the Pakistan team and are reluctant to raise a younger team for the 2014 FIH World Cup.
Earlier, it was widely expected that the Waseem and Shakeel would be sidelined like the fellow players in their age bracket namely Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Salman Akbar in order to induct fresh legs into the team ahead of the World Cup.
And while Sohail and Rehan were not called up by the national team since their 2012 London Olympics debacle where they finished seventh, Waseem and Shakeel have since been inspirational in leading a largely young Pakistan team to success. Waseem had announced his retirement from international hockey after the Olympics was forced to withdraw his decision and he and Shakeel helped Pakistan secure third position in the FIH Champions Trophy in Melbourne — which was incidentally Pakistan’s first podium finish in the event in eight years.
The duo followed that up with a string of impressive performances in the Asian Champions Trophy where the team won gold.
The training camp will be held at the National Hockey Stadium here from Feb 10 with the Azlan Shah Cup set to be held in the Malaysian city of Ipoh from March 9 to 17.
Probables: Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Syed Kashif Shah, Mohammad Imran, M. Rizwan Senior, Mohammad Tousiq, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Mohammad Waqas, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Ali Shan, Mohammad Ateeq, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammad Kashif Ali, Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Salman Hussain, Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Rizwan Junior, Mohammad Irfan Junior, Mohammad Dilber, Mohammad Khalid Bhatti, Tasawwar Abbas and Talal Khalid.
Team management: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (Manager-Head coach), Abdul Hanif Khan (Coach), Ajmal Khan Lodhi, Ahmed Alam (Assistant coaches), Faiz-ur-Rahman (Physio), Nadeem Khan Lodhi (Video Analyst).—Sports Reporter