Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Olympian Asif Bajwa has said that induction of eight junior players in the senior team during the tour of Germany and the Netherlands earlier this month proved beneficial for the Green-shirts as Pakistan managed a 4-4 draw against the latter in the first match.
He said no one was expecting such a result. “But they played very well and stunned all the critics by taking lead thrice against the third ranked team in the world,” he added.
He said that if 35 to 40 international matches were given to the Green-shirts annually, they would bounce back in the world hockey. Pakistan are currently 17th in world, the lowest in the history of the country.
He said that PHF is also working keenly to uplift the junior team which had been in isolation for a long time. He said that Pakistan would play Junior Asia Cup 2020 in the middle of the next year, which would also be a qualifier for Junior World Cup 2021.
Under FIH rules, three or four Asian teams can qualify for the Junior World Cup. Bajwa said that Pakistan should reach the semi-finals of Junior Asia Cup 2020 to confirm their qualification for the Junior World Cup.
The PHF secretary said that the junior team management and players would be named during the national championship, which is scheduled to be held from November 28 to December 8 in Lahore.
He said that the national junior championship was being organised in the country after a couple of years. Bajwa said that the training camp for juniors would be announced just after the national championship.
He said the junior team would play test matches against strong team such as Germany and the Netherlands before the Asia Cup 2020. He further said that the engagements of the senior team would be continued. A physical fitness programme has been given to all players to maintain their fitness during the off season, he added.

Syed Intikhab Ali – The News