ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) selection committee chairman Rasheed Junior Saturday announced 21-member Pakistan junior squad along with five standby players for the 5th Sultan of Johor Junior Hockey Tournament to be played in Johor Bahru, Malaysia from October 11.

After the two-day trials here at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium, the national junior team was selected by selection committee chairman Rasheed Junior and members Farhat Khan, Saeed Khan, Qasim Khan and Wasim Feroze along with coach Tahir Zaman. PHF president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior, coaches Irfan Senior and Zeeshan Ashraf and newly-appointed manager Brig (R) Khalid Mukhtar Farani were also present on the occasion.

Talking to the journalists, Rashid Jr said: “We have selected the best available junior squad. Eleven players were from the previous teams while rests of the players are fresh faces. Seasoned campaigner Dilbar Hussain was appointed as skipper of the team, which will stay in Malaysia till the Junior Asia Cup qualification round to be held in Malaysia from November 14. The same venue will help in saving extra expenditures.”

When this scribe asked secretary Shahbaz Senior whether they had funds and the team would proceed in time to Malaysia or same old story of lack of funds and uncertainty would prevail, he replied: “No, the team will proceed on October 7 and will play practice match against Argentinean national hockey team on 10th while the Malaysians will inform us about their availability of playing two practice matches.”

To a query regarding state of Naseer Bunda astroturf and facilities being provided to them by the IPC and PSB, Tahir replied: “I am grateful to the IPC minister and PSB director general and especially assistant director hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain and his team for fulfilling their promise and caring the players better than we thought. Secondly, I must appreciate DDG Facilities Agha Amjedullah and his team for superb work on the astroturf. We had not a single injury in the last 15 days or so, because they had done a tremendous job of cleaning the astroturf and making it quite comfortable.”

He said that the camp would conclude on September 23 morning for Eid holidays. “The players will report on September 27 while the full-fledge training will start on 28th. The team will depart on October 7.”

When asked about players would feel homesick after such a long stay in Malaysia, Tahir said: “Off course, they will feel so, but they fully realize what is on offer, a bit long stay will certainly benefit them. The team is not final yet and we will witness performances of the players and can make a couple of changes before the Asian Junior Qualification round. Five standby players can be rushed in case of any emergency or injury.”

The selected 21 players are Talal, Ali Haider (goalkeepers), Mubashir, Faisal, Atif (full backs), Faizan Jonthy, Abu Bakr, M Qasim, Sikander, M Adnan and Junaid (half backs), Shan Irshad, Azfer Ayub, Dilbar Hussain, Fahad, Sohail Riaz, M Atiq, Bilal, Adnan, M Naveed and Rizwan (forwards). Five reserve players are Ali Raza (goalkeeper), Zahidullah, Asfandyar, Mohsin Sabir and Sohail Anjum (backs).