Pakistan Junior Hockey team to play practice matches against Germany and Canada in India
The Pakistan juniors finished runners-up at the recently concluded Sultan Johor Bahru hockey tournament.
The Pakistan junior hockey team are in India for the upcoming Junior World cup after getting permission to practice on Indian soil following the bilateral political agitations. The youngsters who seem to be fully focused on the challenges ahead are now ready to take on Germany and Canada in their practice matches. Pakistan will play both their practice games in Lucknow ahead of the Junior Hockey World Cup which kicks off in December.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had confirmed the match against Canada while the game against Germany is yet to be finalised. The Pakistan Junior team looks in good shape ahead of the tournament as they returned from Malaysia finishing runners-up of the Sultan Johor Bahru hockey tournament.
According to The News, team manager Tahir Zaman exclaimed, “The boys played well against England, New Zealand, Korea and Japan and only the Australians played better than Pakistan.” After an 8-1 thrashing by Australia in the initial stage of the tournament, Pakistan came back strong to restrict the Aussies to 3-1 in the finals.
He further added, “We are passing through a reconstruction process. Our entire hockey had been shaken when we failed to qualify for the World Cup and the Olympics. We have started afresh and the Aussies are an established side. So there was a big difference between us and them as their players had been playing international hockey regularly.”
However, the Pakistan manager feels that there is still scope for the team to improve in their defence and goalkeeping. Talal Khalid, who was the first choice keeper got injured before the Malaysia tour which greatly affected the goalkeeping department and Tahir’s decision to train Munib-ur-Rehman as the third goalkeeper alongside Talal and Ali Raza paid off as Munib carried his duties diligently putting up a brilliant performance.
Talal is still under recovery and the manager feels it would be difficult for him to participate in the final phase of the training camp to be conducted in Lahore.
When asked about his penultimate preparations Tahir very confidently said, “After playing international matches during the preparation process, we have shaped up a good team which can produce good results. During the last phase of training, we will maintain the physical fitness of our players, polish their skills and improve goalkeeping and deep defence.”
PHF is also talking to authorities in Japan and South Korea to visit Pakistan for a few days before the World Cup as Tahir wants his team to play a couple of international friendlies in Pakistan before leaving for India.