Home / Hockey / We have the potential to confront India, South Korea at Asiad: Imran

We have the potential to confront India, South Korea at Asiad: Imran


ISLAMABAD: While lamenting the lack of international exposure for Pakistan team during the last year or so, national hockey captain Mohammad Imran on Friday picked India and South Korea as tough opponents at next month’s Asian Games and said his men had the ability to tackle both of them.

The Asian Games are slated to be held from Sept 19 to Oct 4 in Incheon, South Korea.

Sounding optimistic, Imran, who scored 163 goals in 265 international matches, vowed that his men will deliver their best at Incheon Games.

“South Korea and India will give us tough competition but I believe we have the potential to handle them,” Imran said while talking to Dawn on Friday.

The captain is satisfied with the squad selected for the continental extravaganza.

“I’m very much satisfied with the team [selected for the Asian Games]. Except for one newcomer, goalkeeper Amjad Ali, I think it is an experienced side for defending the title we won in Guangzhou four years ago,” the 35-year-old full-back emphasised.

Pakistan hold a rich record in the Asian Games hockey event. Green-shirts have the honour of winning Asiad title as many as eight times. First they clinched it in 1958, then in 1962, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990 and the last time in 2010 in Guangzhou, China.

The captain, while acknowledging that the squad for the task of defending the Asian Games crown was balanced comprising several seniors, expressed his concern that dearth of foreign tours might leave Pakistan in a disadvantageous position against their opponents in Incheon.

“During the last one year we could not make any foreign tour. On the other hand, almost all Asian teams made several international visits and so the experience those teams gained from those tours will help them in the Asian Games,” he stated.

Responding to a query, Imran reckond there were no out-and-out favourites for the Asian Games title. “It is very difficult to pick any team as hot favourite,” he said, adding Pakistan, India, South Korea and even Malaysia had the potential to clinch the hockey trophy.

He said the green-shirts for the last three months had been training hard for the Asain Games, adding the PHF was trying to send the team to Spain for a few matches prior to the Asian Games.

“If we get the Spain tour it will help us a lot in boosting our confidence,” the Pakistan captain said.

The skipper wants the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to send the Pakistan squad to Incheon a bit early.

“If our players get themselves adjusted to the weather conditions [in Incheon] we will stand better chance to clinch the trophy. I would request the PHF to send the squad to South Korea at least 10 days before the commencement of the games so that we could play some practice matches there,” he said.

When asked why the selection committee hadn’t given chance to emerging newcomers and instead selected seniors for the Asian Games, he said the federation was taking Asiad very seriously.

“In a situation when we have not undertaken any foreign tour for the last one year, when we missed the Commonwealth Games, Europe tour, World Cup and other important events, we need a win to boost our morale.

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