LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) while announcing the 18-member squad on Saturday for the upcoming four-nation tournament scheduled to be held in Hobart, Australia from May 2 to 10 retained Mohammad Imran as captain in addition to inducting Faisal Qadir and Rizwan Ali into the national team.
Faisal and Rizwan have succeeded in replacing Rashid Mahmood and Rizwan Senior who, as per the PHF press release, were asked to join the national training camp but both did not do so in that the duo had been engaged in a German league.
Principally, both Rashid and Rizwan Senior should have joined the training camp in that national duty comes first but the PHF, Dawn has learnt, is no more in a position to properly take care of players due to severe financial problems.
“The team has been selected purely on merit and is capable of earning favourable results in Hobart where strong teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Korea are competing,” said chief selector Islahuddin who was accompanied by head coach Shahnaz Sheikh and one of the selectors during a news conference.
The former Olympian said some junior players were spotted in the recently-concluded national junior championship in Karachi but they needed time to replace seniors.
“The great achievement of Pakistan in the last Champions Trophy held in India where Pakistan earned silver medal has boost my hopes for a better future of the game,” maintained Islah while stating that they could definitely qualify for the next year’s Rio Olympics, if the team pressed ahead with the same zeal.
The chief selector said the tour was important in that before flying to Belgium for qualifiers, the greenshirts would only have to play five Test matches in South Korea against the hosts.
The PHF while keeping in view its financial constraints has decided to send only players and officials to Australia, said the chief selector, adding that the Punjab government was kind in helping the PHF make possible the Australia tour.
Notwithstanding, he clarified the hockey federation had succeeded in managing cash amount for half of the expenditures while the rest of the amount had been borrowed.
It may be mentioned that the federation is facing acute shortage of funds, for the federal government has decided to conduct PHF audit before releasing grants.
However, the PHF audit by the government is yet to be conducted despite a lapse of over two weeks when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar revealed that the government would conduct audit of the PHF before releasing funds.
On the other hand, the country’s hockey governing body has time and again expressed willingness to cooperate with auditors.
Head coach Shahnaz Sheikh, meanwhile, said that his input was taken in finalising the squad while stating that the only target he had set for the tournament was to get maximum positive results.
“Tough teams are featuring in the tournament but it will provide Pakistan the best opportunity which will make the team strong for the Olympic qualifiers,” maintained the head coach who said he was expecting a spot in the top three of the qualifiers.
The coach said he had earlier planned to get 35 international matches before the Olympic qualifiers but he could make do with just 15 matches hoping that the players would take full advantage of available opportunity.
The team would leave for Australia on April 28 from Lahore via Karachi, said Shahnaz, adding that all probables would continue their training at the camp with the selected squad.
Only Ayaz Mahmood and Musaddiq Hussain along with Islah observed the trials before finalising the squad, said an official statement of the PHF which also stated that due to ailment Arshad Ali Chaudhry was not able to observe the trials while another selector Khalid Bashir was also absent.
Goalkeepers: Imran Butt and Amjad Ali; fullbacks: Mohammad Imran (captain), Mohammad Irfan, Syed Kashif Shah; halves: Tasawar Abbas, Zohaib Ashraf, Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Mohammad Tousiq, Ammad Shakeel Butt and Faisal Qadir; forwards: Mohammad Waqas Sharif, Arslan Qadir, Shafqat Rasool, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Dilber, Ali Shan and Rizwan Ali.
Officials: Shahnaz Sheikh (manager/head coach), Nasir Ali, Mohammad Shafqat, Syed Sameer Hussain, Syed Abu Zar Umrao (coaches), Tahir Zaman (coaching consultant), Asad Abbas Shah (doctor).
Published in Dawn,