ISLAMABAD, Nov 12 (APP): Former Olympian and captain national hockey team Islahuddin Siddiqui believes that Pakistan juniors will qualify for next year’s World Cup and has urged them to set a high target in the Junior Asia Cup.
The Pakistan juniors, led by newly-appointed skipper Ammad Shakeel Butt
are set to put on a good show in the eight-day Asia Cup that starts on Saturday at Kuantan, Malaysia. They are in pool B along with Korea, Oman and Bangladesh.
“I believe our boys will make it to the World Cup but I will insist that
their objective should be to finish at the top of the podium,” he told APP.
Pakistan juniors, who performed poorly in the Sultan of Johor
invitational event, held in Malaysia last month must be among the top three nations in the Junior Asia Cup to qualify for Junior World Cup. Being the host, India has already qualified for the event.
Siddiqui, who led Pakistan to one of their record four World Cup wins in
1978, urged the juniors to work hard as Pakistan hockey’s future was depending on them.”If they will put on their best and act according to the plan given by Tahir Zaman (head coach) they will be formidable side in the event,” he said.
He was of the view that a well-organized attack, solid defence and
physical fitness would play a major role in Pakistan’s fortunes in the Asia Cup.
He said that though Pakistan junior team performed poorly in the Sultan
of Johor Cup, last month, the encouraging thing was that players got the chance to face some really good world sides. “The Sultan of Johor tour was a sort of training trip for them. They must have learnt a lot of things from that tour. I believe the results this time would be different.”
To a question he did not agree that Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF)
would be able to raise a formidable side in two to three years as claimed by recently appointed PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior. “Shahbaz has been a great player and I believe he can help Pakistan hockey to regain its lost status. But keeping in view the current situation I believe at least four to five years are needed to make a strong outfit.”
He said that the new Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) management was
moving in right direction and it should be backed for its efforts to revive the national game. “The new PHF chief and secretary are capable people but it will not be fair to expect they will bring an abrupt improvement. They need some time to settle down.”
“They are in the process of putting Pakistan hockey on track. We need to be patient and support them.”