Pakistan team confident about beating India in Asian Games: Shahnaz

The event will be held in China

September 22, 2023
Pakistan team departed for Hangzhou, China, on Thursday night, along with taekwondo and squash teams. - PHF

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey team head coach Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh has said that Green Shirts would surprise India in the Asian Games 2023.

"We will give tough time to both Japan and India in this event to reach the victory stand," he said while talking to The News on Thursday.

Pakistan team departed for Hangzhou, China, on Thursday night, along with taekwondo and squash teams.

Shahnaz said that the mistakes and weaknesses identified in the previous tournament have been thoroughly addressed. He said that he would not make tall claims but was confident that the Pakistan hockey team would prove a competent and strong hockey team and reach the victory stand.

Pakistan are in Group A with India, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. He said that India has a good ranking in the world of hockey.

"But as a hockey coach, I know that in the Asian region, there is very little difference between the four or five top teams, and on the day of the match, if they control their nerves, play according to strategy, mark the weaknesses of the rival teams, avoid mistakes, and take advantage of the goal-scoring opportunities, that team will be the winner," he said.

"I am the coach of the Pakistan team that defeated India in their home ground by 4-3 in the Champions Trophy 2014; at that time too, we were considered weak, and they were strong but we were successful in defeating them on their soil,” Shahnaz said.

"In our group, India and Japan are two strong teams, and we will have to defeat them to reach the next round. We have identified their weaknesses and will exploit them," the coach said.

He said the Pakistan hockey team is composed of young and energetic players.

"They are passing through a development period, and they are fast learners. During the training camp, they have been trained according to the requirements of advanced hockey," he said.

Shahnaz said that Pakistan's goal-scoring ratio on penalty corners was not as good as it should be.

"At crucial times, we often miss goal-scoring chances. This time, a visible change will be seen," he added.

Shahnaz said that on PC drills, injector, stopper, and dragger, all three have been trained comprehensively, and the mistakes made in the Champions Trophy and other events were addressed in the training camp.

He said Sufiyan, Arbaz, and Rehman would be the drag flickers, and they were all competent and had improved in the training camp. He hoped they would perform well in the Asian Games in China. He said that the five forwards would follow the attacking game plan to put the rival teams under pressure.

Syed Intikhab Ali is a reporter for The News