KARACHI: The first batch of Pakistan hockey team embarks for Muscat on Sunday to compete in the three-nation tournament being played there from Feb 14 to 20.
The first batch comprises 12 players while the second batch of nine players and five team officials will fly the following day.
The national carrier has provided free return air tickets to the team and officials.
Besides Pakistan, other two nations in the event include Japan and Oman. The competition will be played on double league basis.
“All the players are physically fit and looking forward to start the year on a winning note,” former Olympian and manager-cum-head-coach Hasan Sardar told International News on the eve of departure at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Saturday as the players underwent their last practice session in the camp.
First batch of national hockey players leave for Muscat today
Sardar said besides giving the much needed international exposure to the players, the event will also serve as impetus for the tougher assignments ahead.
He said the team is shaping well and much stress has been laid on stopping goals, conversion of penalty corners and physical fitness. “The ratio of PC conversion is bit slow and needs further improvement,” he remarked.
The former Olympian said Mubashir Ali, who emerged as highest scorer of the national hockey championship at Sukkur, has been groomed to score goals on penalty corners.
The former centre-forward, who was declared Man of the Tournament at the Mumbai World Cup in 1981-82, reiterated that he had set his sight on the Jakarta Asian Games gold that gives direct ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
However, he was optimistic that a winning combination will be ready for the Commonwealth Games being held at Gold Coast, Austalia, in April.
He added that upon their return from Muscat, the players will re-assemble in the camp at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Feb 27th or 28th to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
Imran Butt, Mubashir Ali, Mohammad Rizwan Jr, Tasawwar Abbas, Abu Bakar, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Tauseeq Arshad, Umer Bhutta, Arsalan Qadir (vice-captain), Mohammad Rizwan Sr (captain), Shafqat Rasool, Amjad Ali, Faisal Qadir, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Azfar Yaqoob, Ijaz Ahmed, Ali Shan, Atiq Arshad, Shajeeh Ahmed, Atif Mushtaq and Tazeem-ul-Hasan.
Hasan Sardar (manager-cum-head coach), Mohammad Saqlain and Rehan Butt (coaches), Shahid Ali Khan (goal-keeping coach), Nadeem Lodhi (video analyst), Waqas Mahmood (physiotherapist).