Pakistan drop seniors for Asian Champions Trophy hockey

August 19th, 2011 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 19 (IANS) The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has dropped senior players Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt, goalkeeper Salman Akber, Waseem Ahmed and Shakeel Abbasi from the 18-member squad for next month’s inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China.

Abbas, an ace drag flicker, and seasoned striker Butt were dropped following the tour of Europe triggering speculations that it could be the end of road for the two veterans. Akber was also dropped after the experienced goalie requested for leave to play professional hockey in Europe.

PHF chief selector Hanif Khan said the seniors had been given rest.

“If the juniors perform well in China, they will be in contention for the upcoming three major events, a tour to Australia, the Champions Trophy and next year’s London Olympics,” said Khan.

The chief selector said Pakistan, who won the gold medal in the Asian Games, will win the Asian Champions Trophy to keep its supremacy intact in the continent.

PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, also an Olympian, said the federation has been thinking of inducting young blood in the national team and the Asian Champions Trophy was the right platform to try them out ahead of the London Olympics.

The decision to try out youngsters was made after the team’s month-long tour of Europe earlier this summer in which Pakistan won a four-nation event in Ireland but crashed to a last-place in a quadrangular event in the Netherlands.

Besides Pakistan, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Malaysia will participate in the Asian Champions Trophy.

The Pakistani team coached by a Dutch, Michel Van Den Heuvel, will start the six-nation tournament as favourites. They will face India Sep 9.

The squad: Mohammad Imran (captain), Shakeel Abbasi (vice-captain), Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Mohammad Irfan, Syed Kashif Shah, Mohammad Rizwan Junior, Mohammad Tousiq, Waseem Ahmad, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, Kashif Javed, Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Rizwan Senior, Mohammad Umar Bhutta and Ali Shan.

Officials: Michel Van Den Heuvel (head coach), Khawaja Junaid (manager), Shahid Ali Khan and Ajmal Khan Lodh (assistant coaches), Faizur Rahman (physiotherapist), Nadeem Khan Lodhi (video analyst).

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