Pakistan hockey looks to rebuild for 2010 World Cup in India

September 3rd, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Sep 3 (IANS) Pakistan is looking beyond its senior hockey players who under-performed in last month’s Beijing Games where the three-time Olympic champion finished eighth, its worst showing in the Games history.The national hockey bosses gave an indication that they are planning to rebuild the team for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi by overlooking several senior players for a four-nation hockey tournament in Germany.

The national selectors ignored a number of experienced players including defender Zeeshan Ashraf, who captained Pakistan in Beijing, and forward Rehan Butt, midfielders Mohammad Saqlain, Adnan Maqsood and goalie Salman Akbar while naming a 37-man provisional squad for next month’s Hamburg Masters.

It seems like the start of a major rebuilding phase, two years before the World Cup.

“We are certainly planning a rebuilding phase in a bid to get ready for the next World Cup and Olympic Games,” PHF secretary Asif Bajwa was quoted as saying by The News Wednesday.

“But that doesn’t mean that some of the senior players who will not be playing in the Hamburg Masters have been dropped. We have actually rested them after taking them in confidence,” added Bajwa, a former Pakistan international.

Pakistan flopped miserably in Beijing where they lost to lower-ranked teams like Great Britain and New Zealand. Senior players, who failed to give their best, were blamed for the defeats.

Bajwa said that by inducting new players in the squad for the Hamburg Masters, the PHF also wants to give international exposure to several of the country’s under-21 players who will be featuring in next year’s Junior World Cup to be jointly hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.

“We have to plan for the future to ensure that things get better for us,” said Bajwa, who took over as the PHF secretary just weeks before the Olympics.

The preliminary squad for the Hamburg Masters was picked after top PHF officials, national selectors and coaches witnessed two-day trials held after the conclusion of the National Junior Hockey Championship.

The four-nation event will feature the newly-crowned Olympic champions Germany, Malaysia and Belgium. The camp will conclude Sep 30 after which the national team will fly out for the Hamburg quadrangular which will get underway from Oct 3.

Following the Beijing debacle, Pakistan’s head coach Khawaja Zakauddin and his deputy Naveed Alam decided to quit. The PHF is yet to name a new management for the national senior team.

Bajwa said that the PHF has decided to appoint national junior team officials as the management for the Hamburg-bound squad.

That means former Olympian Jahangir Butt, who heads the national junior team management, will be the head coach while ex-Olympians Danish Kaleem and Kamran Ashraf will his deputies for the Hamburg event.

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