Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seniors can retire after winning Asiad: Zeeshan

hockey commonwealth games Seniors can retire after winning Asiad: Zeeshan
Zeeshan said that coach Michel de van Heuvel should not be blamed for the team's performance at the Commonwealth Games, since he had joined the team recently. -AFP/File Photo

LAHORE: Welcoming the return of veterans Sohail Abbas and Salman Akbar for the Asian Games, Pakistan hockey captain Zeeshan Ashraf feels the senior players can conclude their careers on a high in the continental extravaganza to set a nice platform for the budding players for the 2012 London Olympics.
“Personally, I feel the senior players including me are in the best shape to deliver at the moment. And the Asian Games is a great opportunity for us to record a happy ending to our careers,” fullback Zeeshan said while talking to Dawn on Monday.
“After the Asian Games there is no big competition until the 2012 Olympic Games and after the Asiad juniors should be included in the team to groom them for the London Games. [Therefore] it will be better for the seniors to call it a day [after the Asian Games],” Zeeshan reckoned.
He said the decision of calling back Sohail and experienced goalkeeper Salman should deliver, hoping both would help the team win the Asian Games title.
“I have great hopes from Sohail since the team was lacking in short-corner department in his absence,” he said.
On whether Sohail`s comeback would not disturb the team combination, Zeeshan dispelled the impression saying he (Sohail) was a seasoned campaigner who had played with the same players for a long time in different stints.
Sohail, after being dropped by the Hanif Khan-led selection committee for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, was also not considered for national team`s last tour to Europe and the Commonwealth Games.
However, after the team`s pathetic show in the Commonwealth Games, the PHF took a U-turn recalling the short-corner expert with a hope to win the Asian Games title next month, the main target of the current PHF administration.
Zeeshan stressed new coach Michel de van Heuvel should not be criticised for the poor sixth position Pakistan gained in the Commonwealth Games, since the Dutch had joined the team recently.
“Quick changes in the team management cannot bring any positive results and it is better to give someone sufficient time to show his skills,” Zeeshan said, referring to his team`s coach.
Meanwhile, Zeeshan did not agree to the advice of some great Olympians that Pakistan could win matches only with an offensive strategy.
“For playing attacking game, you should have a strong defence too, otherwise, in case of a counter-attack [by the opponent team] a weak defence can concede goals. Therefore, a strategy based upon keeping a proper balance between attack and defence is more useful,” the Pakistan captain said.
Asked how he treats India as rivals in the Asian Games after two consecutive defeats against them in the recent past (World Cup and Commonwealth Games), Zeeshan while acknowledging India`s fine performance in the said encounters, vowed the Greenshirts would face them in the Asiad with a new strategy.
“Obviously, we have been working on a new plan against the Indians, and hopefully it will work as the boys are eager to win the Asian Games,” he said.
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