ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary general Rana Mujahid Ali has said Pakistan will give their best in the upcoming Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea in September. Pakistan are the defending champions of the Asian Games hockey, winning the gold in Guangzhou in China in 2010. “Our players are in high spirits and they want to give their best,” said Mujahid while talking to Daily Times on Monday. He said Pakistan were quite capable of retaining their title as they were undergoing strenuous training under guidance of former Olympian Shahnaz Shiekh. He said head coach Shahnaz was managing to transform players to play both classic and modern hockey and also giving top priority to goalkeeping department.
The Asian Games 2010 proved to be very memorable for Pakistan as they won the Asian Games gold after a long drought of two decades. Hockey is a national sport of Pakistan and very popular nationwide along with the obvious South Asian craze - cricket. Pakistan are the most successful team in the Asian Games, having the unbeaten record of eight gold medals: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990 and 2010 with two silver and three bronze medals as well. “All the questions regarding medal chances should be asked from head coach Shahnaz and chief selector Islahuddin Siddique as they are the ones responsible for setting the targets for any tournament. The PHF will only monitor the activities of the national team and its management without any interruption,” he added. Mujahid said the present PHF set-up was the first one that had give complete autonomy to the team management and the selectors. “We don’t interfere in their working.”
He said all former Olympians, except Samiullah, had joined the PHF in its endeavors to put hockey on the right track. “I have great respect for Samiulah and I want him to help the PHF with his good suggestions for the betterment of Pakistan hockey. The PHF wants to move forward that is why we have taken all former Olympians on board who once criticised the national federation.” The PHF official said that Pakistan would also field a team in 2nd Youth Olympic Games, set be held in Nanjing, China in August this year. “I am here to do my best to revive Pakistan hockey and my target is to provide maximum matches to the Pakistan junior and senior outfits so that they could get best international experience and exposure.”
Mujahid said the PHF had requested the Prime Minster for the allocation of funds for the national team’s participation and for the running of hockey affairs. “Funds are the top priority requirement for the operating of the national game,” he said. Speaking about the hockey series with Indian hockey team, he said the PHF had very good relations with their counterparts but at the end it was up to the governments to give a helping hand in the finalization of the series. “Whenever the series happens India will first tour Pakistan and then Pakistan will play there,” he concluded.
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