Pakistan vows to bounce back in Asia Cup

April 14th, 2009 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

By Omar Khalid
Karachi, April 14 (IANS) A day after crashing to an embarrassing fourth position in the five-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh (Malaysia), Pakistan have promised to bounce back in next month’s Asia Cup.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan told IANS in an interview from Kuala Lumpur Tuesday that his team learnt vital lessons from the defeats during the Azlan Shah Cup and will return to Malaysia for the Asia Cup, well-balanced and better-prepared to win the eight-nation contest to be played from May 9-15 in Kuantan.

“We are still a new team and played in this tournament after staying out of international hockey for almost seven months,” said Shahid, a former Olympian, who took over as Pakistan coach last month.

“We will return home and work on a strenuous camp and I am sure that our side will do a lot better when we come back to Malaysia next month,” he added.

Pakistan lost four of its five matches in the Azlan Shah Cup, their only win coming against minnows Egypt (4-0). It lost to Malaysia (2-3), New Zealand (2-3), India (1-2) and again to the Kiwis (1-2) in the playoff for the third position.

It was easily Pakistan’s worst position in the history of the Azlan Shah Cup. But Shahid is confident that the return of four senior players including short corner specialist Sohail Abbas will strengthen his team for the Asia Cup which will serve as the qualifying event for the 2010 World Cup to be held in India.

“Azlan Shah Cup was more of a preparatory event for us,” said Shahid, a former Pakistan goalie who was the hero of country’s successful World Cup campaign in 1982 in Bombay.

“With the return of Sohail and other senior players, we will be at full strength and our results against teams, including India, in the Asia Cup will be different,” he said.

India went on to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and will now be one of the favourites to win the Asia Cup.

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