ISLAMABAD, Nov 13 (APP): Pakistan junior team coach Tahir Zaman is
optimistic that his Under-21 team will do well in Asia Cup, especially
after playing several test matches against Pakistan Whites recently.
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.Junior Asia Cup which starts on Saturday in Kuantan.
“The matches in Johor Baru were the first for many in my young squad …
the six games (in the Sultan of Johor Cup) helped the players to know where they stand. We went back home and had another four matches with our senior side … these matches have been very useful,” Tahir, who is in Malaysia with junior hockey team for Asia Cup was quoted as saying by Malaysian website on Friday.
“We’ve got the structure, now it’s all about putting them into
practice and perform.”Pakistan reached in Kuantan on Tuesday and had a game with China on Wednesday.
Although they lost 2-1, Tahir was happy that they had a chance to
acclimatise to the conditions in Kuantan.
He said Pakistan had two targets. “The first is to qualify for the
Junior World Cup (in New Delhi, India, next year). Once we’ve achieved that, we’ll look at regaining the Junior Asia Cup,” he added.
The coach also believed that new skipper Ahmad Shakeel Butt could use
his experience to guide the younger players.
“Ahmad was not available for the Johor tournament. His return is a major
boost as he is a very experienced player. Like Mohamed Dilber, he is a member of the senior team”.
“The changes to the team have been minimal. This will allow us to have
greater experience in the side and they will be in a better position to understand our style of play.”
Besides Ahmad, the other two new players in the team are Mohamed Adnan
and Mohamed Adnan Anwar. The three players from the Sultan of Johor Cup dropped are Shah Faisal Shah, Mohammad Naveed and Sikandar Mustafa.
Pakistan are in Group B with South Korea, Oman and Bangladesh. Group A
comprises Malaysia, India, Japan and China.
Pakistan will start their campaign against Bangladesh.”The group phase
is not that important, but we’d like to finish in the top two so that we can have an easier quarter-final,” said Tahir.
“Under this format, all the teams will make the quarter-finals. So, that
one quarter-final match is the cruncher. A win will take us through to the Junior World Cup. It’s the same with all teams”.