LAHORE: Pakistan’s hockey team departed for Germany late on Saturday night. The national side is set to take on the Germans in two matches on October 22 and 23 before they head to the Netherlands to play the Dutch in a two-legged qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The qualifiers will take place in Amstelveen, a suburban part of Amsterdam city, on October 26 and 27.
The national team prepared for the matches in a six-week training camp in Lahore before a finalised 19-member was announced earlier. “In six weeks duration of the national training camp, our main focus was on to bring improvement in fitness and mental levels and we have achieved the targets to a satisfactory level,” Pakistan head coach Khawaja Junaid told Dawn.
Green Shirts play Netherlands on Oct 26, 27
Junaid said his team, ranked 17th in the world will have nothing to lose against the world No.3 Netherlands and therefore Pakistan will have a ‘fearless’ approach.
“Holland will be under more pressure than us since they are playing at home and are a way better side. They will be looking to avoid any upsets,” Junaid said.
Junaid hoped Pakistan, despite being the minnows, will exhibit their best technical skills on the day when it’s needed the most and an upset can be on the cards.
Pakistan have not featured in an international match since the 2018 World Cup. However, Junaid said the matches against Germany will provide Pakistan the chance to get match practice ahead of the Olympic qualifier.
“Our top priority is to perform because without giving cent per cent you can’t even expect miracles,” he said. “The boys have to have good control over their nerves.”
Captain Rizwan Sr. and Rashid Mahmood have already left for Germany while Irfan Sr. will fly from England to join the team later. Hammad Anjum and goalkeeper Waqar are expected to receive their passports on Monday. Abu Bakar Mehmood’s participation is not confirmed yet as he is waiting for MRI test reports after an injury.
Squad: Waqar, Amjad Ali (goalkeepers), Mubashar Ali, Rizwan Ali, Ammad Butt (vice-captain), Abu Bakar Mahmood, Moin Shakeel, Tassawar Abbas, Azfar Yaqoob, Rashid Mehmood, Ali Shan, Ajaz Ahmad, Umer Bhutta, Mohammad Rizwan Sr. (captain), Rana Sohail, Rana Waheed, Ghazanfar Ali, Hammad Anjum, Irfan Sr.
Team management: Khawaja Junaid (manager/head coach), Wasim Ahmed, Zaheer Ahmad Babar, Ajmal Khan Lodhi, Sameer Hussain (coaches), Asad Abbas Shah (doctor), Jesse Wilson Workman (trainer), Nadeem Lodhi (video analyst).
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019