Pakistan hockey team’s training camp for Asian Games started here at Dr Muhammad Ali Shah-Islahuddin Hockey Academy here on Saturday. The venue had to be changed because of water shortage at Abdul Sattar Hockey Stadium.
Because of a technical fault, the filter plant at Edhi Stadium is not operational, so it was difficult to organise the three-week training camp there, an official said.
Winning the Asian Games hockey event is crucial for Pakistan because it provides direct qualification for Olympics 2020.
Team manager Hasan Sardar is out of the country, but head coach Roelant Oltmans reached Pakistan and joined the training camp on Saturday.
The Academy has hostel rooms which can accommodate all players and team officials.
Assistant coach Muhammad Saqlain told that they would try to bring improvements in the areas where shortcomings were observed during the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands. “Playing well against Australia, the Netherlands, England and Belgium and defeating Olympic champions Argentina by 4-1 gave us satisfaction that our players are improving and growing in confidence against strong teams,” he added.
He said that India, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia were tough teams in Asian Games. “In modern day hockey you cannot say anything about any team. On its day an average team can turn the tables on you. Thus, we need to be very alert,” said the assistant coach.
He said that missing of goal scoring in penalty shootout against Belgium was an obvious shortcoming. “We also need improvement in goal scoring on penalty corners. We will address these issues in this training camp,” he added.
Saqlain said that goalkeeper Imran Butt played well throughout the Champions Trophy. “He has improved his form and fitness but we need to prepare another goalkeeper of his standard, so that we have a replacement if something untoward happens,” he added.
Syed Intikhab – The News