ISLAMABAD

An 18-memebr Pakistan junior hockey team was named Saturday for the upcoming 4th Sultan of Johor Bahru Junior International U-21 Men's Hockey Tournament in Malaysia.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui along with members Arshad Ali Chaudhry, Ayaz Mahmood, Khalid Bashir and Musaddiq Hussain wasted several hours to announce this team. The teams from Pakistan, Malaysia, Australia, England, New Zealand and India would feature in the event.

A total of 42 players out of 46 appeared in trials, which were originally scheduled for four quarters, each quarter consisted of 20 minutes, but sensing long delay and light was fast fading, the match was reduced to three quarters and interestingly, the third quarter was stretched to almost one hour. The players were literally looking over-exhausted, but to no reprieve, several requests made by the journalists to have some mercy on youngsters, which finally paid off as Qamar Ibrahim was told to blew the final whistle.

Young and promising faces were picked for the mega event. Watching three hours or so trials, it was clearly witnessed that the boys lacked finishing touch, missing ratio was too high and they were finding it too tough to utilize simple chances.

Like senior team selection process, Islahuddin was busy on mobile taking instructions from PHF president Ch Akhtar Rasool. When Islahuddin can't even select a junior team and needs dictations from high command, it makes no sense of conducting these so-called trials. How could selection committee picked up the best, when the teams would be selected by taking dictations from high command. The coach and his assistance should select the squad and they should be held responsible if the team fails to deliver. Such was the pathetic condition of the Naseer Bunda astro-turf, that several players got injured. A player’s ankle was badly damaged, while another player received severe head injury. What is an army of the PSB employees has been doing, if they can't look after Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium, which is the only real hope of twin cities’ players. Why has PSB Director General been ignoring such a high-profile national asset, who is responsible for maintenance of the ground?

Speaking on the occasion, Islahuddin said: “We are sending the team just to give the players much-needed international exposure. It will take four years before we can expect anything from the juniors. We need money and it is my humble request to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to spare some time for the PHF and held meeting with its chief Ch Akhtar Rasool, as we have been striving to bring back old glory days of Pakistan hockey but to achieve this goal, we need funds. Only the PM can help us out, as no one can expect over the night results without investing.”

The team will depart to Malaysia on October 9. Manzoor-ul-Hassan is very optimistic about his team’s chances in the event. Moaiz Malik will lead the side while Atiq will assist him as deputy.

18-MEMBER SQUAD: Muneeb, Talal (goalkeepers), Mubashir, Faisal, Hassan (fullbacks), Faizan, Abu Bakar, Ghazanfar, Qasim, Ali Raza (halfbacks), Shan Irshad, Mohsin, Moaiz (capt), Asfar, Atiq (vc), Naveed, Aamir Ali and Bilal.