Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Abbas called for Games camp

Sohail Abbas is the world’s leading goal-scorer. PHOTO: AFP
KARACHI: In a surprising move prior to the Asian Games, the selection committee has invited drag-flick specialist Sohail Abbas to the Pakistan hockey team’s training camp after overlooking him for the Commonwealth Games.
Abbas, the world’s leading goal-scorer, was omitted from the list of Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) centrally-contracted players as well and was also not picked for the Games in Delhi after he opted to skip a training camp prior to the team’s tour of Europe earlier this year. The move was prompted by his omission from the Azlan Shah Cup squad after Pakistan fared poorly in the World Cup.
Chief selector Hanif Khan said the penalty-corner specialist was badly needed by Pakistan for the tough Asian Games assignment as a gold medal in China will ensure Pakistan’s qualification for the 2012 Olympics.
“I was not impressed with the team’s performance, especially when it came to utilising the penalty corners in the Commonwealth Games after which I felt Abbas’ need,” Khan told The Express Tribune before adding the ace player has assured his participation in the camp.
“I met Abbas and he’s ready to join the camp and perform for the national team.”
‘Presence to keep opponents under pressure’
The chief selector believed that the presence of a player of Abbas’ calibre will keep rival teams under pressure.
“It is an added advantage to have a player like him because it keeps the opponents under pressure,” he said before adding Abbas’ presence would also improve performance of other team members. “He is the sort of player who avails his chances and gives other players the boost by converting penalty corners.”
PHF to decide on Abbas’ contract
The PHF would wait for Abbas’ arrival in the national camp and would assess his form and fitness before handing him a central contract.
“We will have to see whether he fulfils his commitment at the camp or not before assessing his form and fitness,” said PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa when asked about the player’s chances of a contract. The PHF had earlier announced a list of 22 players for the training camp that will start from October 25 in Islamabad. Apart from Abbas, the PHF has also called Khalid Bhatti and Abdul Qayyum Dogar, taking the number of probables to 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2010.

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