ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team head coach Roelant Oltmans has said that the team will play every game with planning and try to win the Asian Games title to get direct place in Olympics 2020.

Talking to The Nation, Oltmans said: “Obviously, first task will be to ensure a place in the last four in the Asian Games. Once we achieve this target, we will set our sights on playing the final and then we will try to earn a direct place in 2020 Olympics by winning the Asian Games title.

“We are guaranteed a place in the Olympics 2020, which green shirts missed in 2016, and they also missed a place in the Hockey World Cup. But thankfully, Pakistan hockey team has already sealed their places for this year’s Hockey World Cup in India,” he added.

The head coach said the team has improved a lot both in physical and structure wise. “The boys are more aware of defence situation and know well how to cope with difficult situations. We are well prepared and ready for the challenge. But off course, I can’t commit green shirts are going to lift the Asian Games title, just like they did in 2010.”

He said that hockey has changed now. “Modern-day hockey has tough requirements and only those teams and individuals can survive, who cope with the modern-day needs and are fully prepared to accept the challenges. Ever since I took over the reins of Pakistan team, I have identified different areas and worked on them. I am hopeful that the boys won’t commit same mistakes as they have improved a lot and they will not disappoint the nation and try to give their 100 percent.

“No matter, who will be our opponents, we will enter each and every game with positive frame of mind and try to win the match. It is simple formula and I have given clear directions to the boys not to take pressure and just play according to given plan,” he added.

The coach said that the Asian Games hockey tournament would be a very tough event. “If we look at world rankings, off course, India would be the favourites, as they are number 5 in world ranking. Then Malaysia, Pakistan, Korea and Japan are almost same in the rankings but it doesn’t mean that you can take any team light. We are focused on match-by-match approach, the morale is very high and it can expect that the green shirts will deliver.

“Off course, it was a daily discussion that daily allowances were not paid to the players and officials, but now situation is very clear. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, as per promise, has cleared the dues prior to the departure. It will surely help the players give out their bets in the Asian Games,” he added.

When asked about security, he said: “I am absolutely 100 percent feel safe in Pakistan. I walk everywhere and there is no such problem here, which is propagated against the country. I am happy here.”

About six-nation tournament, which Pakistan is going to host in September, the coach said: “The upcoming FIH event in Pakistan will surely help in portraying positive image of the country across the globe. I hope more teams will come here and play hockey with us. I am also in discussion with some countries to come and play here.”