Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Greenshirts target gold in Asian Games

The Pakistan hockey team are ready for a change in fortunes after their poor showing at the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. PHOTO: AFP
KARACHI: The Pakistan hockey team start their campaign at next month’s Asian Games with two aims in mind – a gold medal and victory against arch-rivals India.
Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf believes his side badly need a gold medal in the quadrennial event that will be held in Guangzhou, China, in order to help them qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
“The Asian Games is the most important assignment for us this year, and we’re training and practising for months now just to keep our focus on it,” Ashraf told The Express Tribune. “We’re aware of its importance because only a gold medal can take us to the Olympics. We’ll go all out to win as we can’t even afford to settle with a silver medal.”
Pakistan finished at an unimpressive sixth position in the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games and finished last in the 12-team World Cup also staged in New Delhi. “We’re hoping to reverse our fortunes on this different venue,” said Ashraf, before adding that his team are also looking to settle the score with India. “We lost to India in the World Cup and then in the Games, but now we’re eying our revenge. We always want to put in extra effort against them as a defeat really hurts.”
Pakistan are tied with India in Group B that also includes Japan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong while South Korea, Malaysia, China, Singapore and Oman are placed in Group A for the competition. Ashraf said that despite the absence of European teams and World Champions Australia, the event will be equally tough as the Commonwealth Games.
‘Abbas will lift team’
Ashraf welcomed the return of Sohail Abbas in the event’s training camp, and said that the short-corner specialist will boost the team’s chances in the event. “There are no doubts on Abbas’ calibre and his presence will definitely benefit the team. Hopefully, he’s in good form.”
Meanwhile, the captain said the team will be working to overcome their weaknesses exposed in the Games in the training camp that starts tomorrow in Islamabad. “It will be a short camp so we’ll be working on our weaknesses like glitches in goal conversion and defence.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2010.

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