Pakistan senior hockey team’s training camp is in the final stages as the Green-shirts will depart for Oman on February 11 to participate in a three-nation tournament along with the hosts and Japan.
Pakistan’s manager-cum-coach Olympian Hasan Sardar told ‘The News’ that the team management had focused on the weaknesses of the team due to which Pakistan had lost a number of matches in recent past in international competitions.
“We have noticed the shortcomings of the team. We have executed a training plan to address those shortcomings we noticed,” he added.The most gifted centre forward of his time said that the forwards had been missing goal opportunities, the PC strikers failing to score and the goalkeepers failing to stop PC strikes of the rivals.
“Our defenders made silly mistakes, allowing gaps to the rivals,” he said. “We have coached the defenders in how to cover their gaps. Due to the gaps, the goalkeeper comes under pressure and concedes goals, which puts the entire team under pressure,” said Sardar.
He said that Olympian Shahid Ali Khan was appointed as specialist goalkeeping coach and he was doing drills with Imran Butt, Amjad Ali, Mazhar and another goalkeeper to prepare them for coming big assignments.
“This is the first phase of our preparation. The shape of the team will emerge in the three-nation tournament. We’ll see how our players perform in this event and how much their confidence has increased,” the coach said.
Sardar said that forwards had been launching attacks but failing to capitalise on them. “We are working on Arsalan Qadir and Shahjee. They will play as centre forwards. We are training them to try for scoring goals in the first attempt instead of waiting,” he said.
He said the team was being prepared basically for Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, which would be the toughest. He described that he believed in specialisation. “That is why I have asked the PHF management to hire the services of a PC specialist. I hope that before Commonwealth Games a foreign PC specialist coach will be hired,” he added.
Sardar said that Oman event was not a big one but it could restore the confidence of the Green-shirts because Japan had defeated Pakistan twice recently. “In Oman we are likely to play three matches against Japan, two in the league and then the final. Therefore, these three matches will be good experience for the team and help us shape up the Green-shirts for coming events,” Sardar said.
The camp will be continued till the departure of the team for Muscat. In recent events, Pakistan lost three matches in the dying moments, having been ahead most of the time.
Syed Intikhab Ali