Pakistan junior hockey team’s assistant coach Muhammad Imran has said he is grooming some talented penalty corner specialists for the Asia Cup 2020.
Three or four junior players had been identified during the first phase of the training camp in Lahore.
Imran, a former captain who himself was a PC specialist during his international career and scored 193 international goals, said that he could not name the players “but Pakistan will have a few good PC flickers in near future through the junior team. These PC drag flickers are raw but have commitment and talent. We will polish them during the second phase as the first phase focused on physical training.”
Imran said defence was not the responsibility of only the defenders. “Forwards also have to take the responsibility. They have to come back during the matches when Green-shirts face attacks. So the forwards will also be trained for defence,” he added.
He said Pakistan had suffered a lot because of poor defence in the recent past, especially in the dying moments, because of the defenders’ failure to stop the opponents.
Pakistan senior team took a 2-0 lead against the Netherlands in Olympics qualifying rounds, but the hosts managed to draw because of the visitors’ poor defence. If Pakistan had won that match, it would have been a great victory as they were ranked 17th and the Netherland were third.
“Everybody knows how important the Junior Asia Cup is for the progress of Pakistan hockey. So, we are all working sincerely to improve the performance of the players,” Imran said.
He said that Pakistan juniors had been away from international hockey for last two years. “It’s necessary to give them international matches experience. This is their only shortcoming. Otherwise they are no less than any Asian team. The juniors need rigorous match practice against strong teams without thinking about losing or winning,” the former captain said.
Imran said that he had more than five years coaching experience. He has coached Canada’s junior team and also coached a club side in Hong Kong.
Syed Intikhab Ali -The News