"Indian hockey team is a big example for teams in Asia" - Pakistan head coach Siegfried Aikman

The Pakistan hockey team at a training session ahead of the Asia Cup. (PC: HI)
The Pakistan hockey team at a training session ahead of the Asia Cup. (PC: HI)

An India vs Pakistan match always grabs eyeballs due to their intense on-field rivalry. It will be no different when the teams lock horns in the opening match of the Asia Cup hockey tournament on May 23.

The Asia Cup, a prestigious tournament for Asian hockey teams, will have more importance attached to it in this edition as it doubles up as a World Cup qualifier. India, Pakistan, Japan and hosts Indonesia are placed in Pool A while Malaysia, Oman, Bangladesh and Korea are in Pool B.

The head coach of the Pakistan hockey team, Siegfried Aikman recently stated that teams in Asia can take a lot of inspiration from the Indian hockey scene.

in a virtual press conference, Aikman said:

"The Indian hockey team is a big example for teams in Asia. They have shown that one can come from very deep and reach far. It takes time but if you do it consistently and bluntly, one can get on top. World Hockey needs India and Pakistan to lead in the sport."
"India are doing well at the moment. But we need to revive ourselves, and I am hopeful I can do that. I want to develop a structure in the country where we can start building players at the grassroots so that in 10 years, we have a team that can compete against the top teams."

Read: Paris Olympics qualifiers to be held independently if Asian Games is postponed beyond September 2023

Pakistan to play aggressive hockey in Asia Cup

Siegfried Aikman also spoke about his team's preparations for the Asia Cup and said there is a lot at stake for the country. He explained:

"I think it will be a tough tournament. There is no second chance or bypass for other teams to reach the World Cup. Apart from India, who have already qualified for the World Cup, it's all or nothing for all the other teams. Hence, we all have to go all out in the tournament."

Also read: Hockey India names Indian men's team for the inaugural edition of Hero FIH Hockey 5s

With the Super 4s format introduced in the Asia Cup, the prospect of India taking on Aikman's team twice is also a possibility. Speaking on the mutual respect between players from both sides, the head coach said:

"The players are very excited to be back in the competition. They want to play against the best and are looking forward to the match against India. There is a lot of respect among our players for Indian hockey players. Some Indians are even their role models. I saw the same respect in Indian players the other way around as well. This environment is a good one to have."

Also read: Asia Cup Hockey 2022: Rupinder Pal Singh ruled out with injury, Birendra Lakra to lead Indian team

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