LAHORE - National hockey training camp to prepare the national hockey team for the Asia Cup started here at the National Hockey Stadium (NHS) on Monday which was attended by 24 players. 

“As many as 24 players attended the training camp while Heseem Khan has not yet informed the camp management regarding his absence,” said chief coach and team manager Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary after the training session. Asia Cup will be played from August 24 to September 1 at Ipoh, Malaysia.

“It is a very important event for us and also the last chance to qualify for the next year’s hockey World Cup being played in Holland. We are under immense pressure to revive the sagging fortunate of the team which finished at number seven in the eighth team Hockey League semi-finals in Malaysia,” he said.

He said the players attended two training sessions on the opening day of the camp and efforts were made to bring them in right frame of mind after a disastrous hockey league event in which the team failed to rise owing to various factors mainly lack of finishing touch and physical fitness.”

“We need to infuse new confidence in the players to help them to overcome the sour memories of the hockey league and there is always a room to improve and we are focusing on that important aspect,” said Akhtar.

He said the team management would be jointly working to utilize the Asia Cup a last ditch effort to help Pakistan qualify for the World Cup. “It is a do-or-die event for us and there is no looking back for us and we are in a very difficult situation of lifting the performance of the team to atone for its previous dismal show,” he added.

The chief coach said Pakistan had to play spirited Malaysia and South Korea in the Hockey League besides locking horns with arch-rivals India and in the given circumstances, the tournament becomes extremely tough and only brilliance and collective efforts would leading the green shirts to their ultimate objective of qualifying for the World Cup. “The team management will be coming up with different strategies and plans to elevate the mental and physical fitness of the players in order to get best out of them during the event,” he said.

“Our main aim is to give the players a mind set in which they are without any pressure and are eager to deliver in the right direction and that is why we are arranging special motivation sessions for them to help them regain their lost confidence,” he concluded.