"India is strongest team on paper in Asia Cup," says Pakistan hockey coach
Dhaka, Sep 21 (PTI) Pakistan hockey coach Farhat Khan today termed India as the "toughest team on paper" for next month's Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
Pakistan have been placed in Pool A alongside India, Japan and hosts Bangladesh.
The team will play their opening match of the Hero Asia Cup against the hosts on October 11 in Dhaka before taking on Japan and India on October 13 and 15 respectively.
"There is tough competition among the participating Asian teams with India being the strongest on paper with a world ranking of 6," Farhat said while assessing the strength of the various teams.
"But there are always teams, who can spring a surprise as Malaysia showed by finishing fourth at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London. Therefore, it is important for us to keep the focus on our game as we want to win the tournament," Farhat added.
The head coach said that the teams need to improve in all areas of their game.
"We will need to make improvements in all areas of our game if we want to achieve our goal this time. We have faced a tough time in recent years as we failed to qualify for the last World Cup, and then 2016 Olympic Games, therefore we want to deliver our best starting from Hero Asia Cup 2017," Farhat stated.
The Pakistan hockey team has not been able to perform well in the past few years, the most recent disappointment being a seventh-place finish at the Hockey World League Semi- Final in London earlier this year.
The major changes that have taken place in the Pakistan Hockey Federation after that are the appointment of Brig Khalid Khokhar as the President, and former hockey legend Shahbaz Ahmad as the Secretary-General.
Even though Pakistan have already qualified for the 2018 Hockey World Cup to be held in India, PHF has brought in changes in the management and selection committee as well.
Pakistan will go into the tournament as one of the favourites as they are also the second most crowned champions in Asia Cup history with three wins behind South Korea, who have won the coveted tournament four times