A total of 11 teams are participating in the hockey event of Asian Games. The men’s teams have been split into two groups, based on FIH World Rankings.
Pool A consists of India, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong China.
Pool B comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia.
Pakistan will play against Thailand on August 20, Oman on August 22, Indonesia on August 24, Malaysia on August 24, and Bangladesh on August 28. The semi-finals will be played on August 29 and the final on September 1.
Pakistan will play two practice matches, one against Oman and the other against Japan. Pakistan are likely to win medals only in hockey and judo. Shah Hussain may win a medal for the country in judo as he has performed admirably in the recent events.
The hockey team has prepared well for Asian Games during the last few months. Teams in Pakistan’s pool except Malaysia are not so strong as to pose any serious threat. The chairman selection committee of Pakistan hockey team Olympian Islahuddin told ‘The News’ that the team had prepared for the event very hard and that PHF had given the players all facilities to develop their skills.
They lagged behind in physical fitness but that weakness, too, has been addressed through modern technology and appointment of foreign fitness instructor, he said. “They have played tough international hockey matches against Olympic, World and European champions. And they played well, so why can’t we expect them to win the gold medal at Asian level. In two matches, they will have to deliver their best,” Islah said.
He said that Holland’s Roelant Oltmans, the best foreign coach available, had been appointed for their training and he did hard work with the Green-shirts. “The goalkeeper Imran Butt has improved his form and fitness. The midfield and deep defence gave stiff resistance to all rival teams. Our only weakness was that we were missing goal-scoring opportunities. The team management did a lot of work in the training camp with the forwards and the penalty corner executioners,” said the former Olympian.
Islah said that every member of the team and the management knew the importance of winning gold medal at the Asian Games. “Not only will that give us direct qualification for the Olympics 2020, but also revive our past prestige in the hockey world,” said the chief selector.
Meanwhile, Pakistan handball team lost against South Korea by 47- 16. South Korea brutally crushed Pakistan in the first half by 26-4. In the second half, they defeated Pakistan 21-12. Pakistan’s seven-member wrestling team will reach Indonesia on August 14.
Syed Intikhab Ali -The News