Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pakistan recall senior players

Thursday, July 01, 2010
By Khalid Hussain

KARACHI: Just weeks after being blamed for leading Pakistan to a humiliating last-place finish in this year’s World Cup, Zeeshan Ashraf has returned as the national team’s captain for next month’s tour of Europe.

Also back in the 18-man touring party are several other seniors including goalie Salman Akber, midfielder Waseem Ahmed and strikers Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi for the European sojourn aimed at preparing the team for the all-important Asian Games in China this November.

But the country’s hockey chiefs snubbed Sohail Abbas, Pakistan’s most successful hockey player in recent years, after the short corner specialist stayed away from Wednesday’s national trials as well as a preparatory camp that preceded it.

Sohail apparently ignored a Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) invitation to attend the camp to protest against his unceremonious axing from the national team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup held in Malaysia earlier this year.

Sohail was tipped to become Pakistan’s captain for the Malaysian assignment but was dropped from the team as the selectors opted to go for several youngsters in the squad.

Several other senior players including Salman, Rehan and Abbasi were also snubbed by the PHF for the Malaysian assignment. However, they opted not to protest against it.

Pakistan were forced to recall the senior players after their team flopped in the Azlan Shah Cup, finishing fifth in the event.

The national selectors and team officials are currently looking for ways and means to raise a strong and capable squad in a bid to regain the Asian Games crown.

Pakistan hockey hit a new low last March when the four-time former champions finished last in the World Cup. The embarrassing result forced the PHF to appointed Dutchman Michel van den Heuvel as the team’s new coach till the 2010 Olympic Games in London.

The Dutchman was present at the one-day trials held at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here on Wednesday.

The squad was later named by chief selector Hanif Khan, a former Pakistan Olympian.

Hanif also announced the Pakistan Whites team which will feature in a quadrangular event in China in July.

Pakistan squad: Salman Akber, Imran Shah, Zeeshan Ashraf (captain), Mohammad Imran (vice-captain), Amir Shahzad, Mohammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammad Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Tauseeq, Kashif Javed, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Haseem Khan, Shafqat Rasool, M Rizwan, Waqas Sharif, Umar Bhutta.

Pakistan Whites: Imran Butt, Wasif Siddique, Tasawer Abbas, Khalid Bhatti, Saleem Nazim, Mohsin Bilal, Hasan Akhtar, Abdul Ghaffar, Sabtain Raza, Zeeshan Ali, Waqas Akber, Kashif Ali, Muhammed Jaffar, Azlan Khan, Abdul Qayyum Dogar, Waqas Khan, Muhammad Waqas, Naghman Ahmad.
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