Sunday, October 17, 2010

'Pakistan team will shine at the Asian Games'

Delta Goodrem performs as a fireworks display ...Image via Wikipedia

KARACHI: When Pakistan will begin their Asian Games campaign in the Chinese city of Guangzhou next month, they will be carrying the heavy burden of an embarrassingly poor run in the last two major field hockey events of the year.
The record four-time former world champions crashed to a humiliating last-place finish in the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi last March and then slumped to a disappointing sixth position in the Commonwealth Games at the same venue earlier this week.
Such poor results have prompted critics to predict 'yet another tsunami of defeats' in the Asian Games to be held from Nov. 12 - 27.
But Pakistan's hockey chiefs are not concerned.
Asif Bajwa, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary, said on Wednesday that his under-performing team will shine in the Asian Games.
"There is nothing to worry about," Bajwa told Arab News, a day after his team succumbed to minnows South Africa in the playoff for the sixth place at the Commonwealth Games.
"We've always said that our main target this year is the Asian Games and I'm confident that the team will click in the event," stressed Bajwa, a former Olympian.
Bajwa's optimism springs from the fact that Pakistan played in the Asian Cup final in Malaysia earlier this year.
"We've had a few good results this year," he said.
The thing is that our boys were unable to do well in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games because both the events were played in high-pressure atmosphere in New Delhi. Most of our boys did not have the necessary experience to handle such pressure, especially in matches against India." Both in the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Pakistan's worst defeats came at the hands of India, their arch rivals.
Bajwa promised that it will be a different story in Guangzhou where Pakistan and India have been bracketed in the same group.
"We will do much better in China," he said. "We know that we have to beat India to enhance our chances of reaching the final and I'm sure that the boys will go all out to beat them." Pakistan's dismal showing in New Delhi has triggered a new wave of criticism back home, but Bajwa urged critics and fans to be patient.
"Pakistan hockey is not where it was 30 years ago," he said referring to Pakistan's slump since their last Olympic gold in 1984. "We cannot expect our team to win in major international events like the World Cup and Commonwealth Games." However, Bajwa believes that his team is good enough to win titles at the continental level.
"Our journey back to the top has to begin at the Asian level which is why all our efforts our aimed at getting the best out of our team in China." Pakistan will get a brief rest after returning home from New Delhi later this week. They will reassemble in Lahore from Oct. 25 for a brief camp before leaving for Malaysia to play a couple of warm-up games against Malaysia on Nov. 6 and 7. The Greenshirts will then play another practice game against hosts China in Guangzhou on Nov. 11, three days before the Games get underway.

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