Pakistan hockey coach wary of Sandeep’s skills

March 31st, 2009 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

By Omar Khalid
Karachi, March 31 (IANS) The Pakistan hockey team is wary of Indian captain Sandeep Singh’s ability to convert penalty corners and see the defender as one of the biggest hurdles in their bid to regain the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in the Malaysian city of Ipoh in April.

Shahid Ali Khan, the Pakistan hockey coach, told IANS Tuesday that he sees India as the team to beat in the April 5-12 tournament mainly because it has the best short corner expert within its ranks.

“India are the in-form team,” said Shahid, a former Olympian.

“It has played and won quite a few matches in recent months and also because it has Sandeep Singh, who is currently one of the best drag flick experts in international hockey,” he stressed.

Pakistan will be going to Ipoh without its drag flick ace Sohail Abbas, who is currently playing league hockey in Holland.

Shahid said Pakistan has carried out special drills to counter short corner strikes during the five-nation Azlan Shah Cup. A former Pakistan goalkeeper, Shahid, is at the helm of an 18-man national squad that will leave for Kuala Lumpur from Islamabad April 1.

Pakistan will play its opening match against hosts Malaysia April 5 followed by games against New Zealand, Egypt and old rivals India. The final will be played April 12.

Pakistan squad:

Goalkeeper: Nasir Ahmed. Fullbacks: Zeeshan Ashraf (captain), Muhammad Imran (vice captain), Ehsanullah.

Midfielders: Zeeshan Ali, Sabtain Raza, Muhammad Saqlain, Rana Muhammad Asif, Fareed Ahmed, Sajjad Anwar, Dilawar Hussain.

Forwards: Waqas Sharif, Shakeel Abbasi, Shabbir Khan, Abbas Haider, Tariq Aziz, Shafqat Rasool, Akhtar Ali.

Officials: Shahid Ali Khan (head coach), Kamran Ashraf (coach).

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