KARACHI Japan can be as unpredictable as Malaysia and its presence in pool B of the Asian Games hockey championship could be worrisome for both India and Pakistan who would be playing for glory. Other teams in the pool are Hong Kong and Bangladesh, the two minnows. However, in the contemporary hockey played on plastics pitches, fame and reputation have taken a strong knocking at time. In Pool A are South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Oman. A team like India, eight times Olympic champions when the sport was played on grass had only once won 1980 Moscow Olympics on the Astro turf surface in the absence of top nations which boycotted the games for political reasons. Since 1976 when astro turf made its maiden appearance at Montreal Olympics as official surface of the FIH, teams like Pakistan and India, known as traditional super powers have suffered because of the lack of physical fitness. Changes in rules and particularly no off-side rule has also helped European teams. Japan has never been a push over team. A close look at statistics of Asian Games and Asia Cup shows that Japan has played semi-finals a number of times and also comes close to upsetting top ranking teams. A physically super fit Japan with mastery over basics of the game including conversion of penalty corner could upset any of the two top teams in the pool. At Doha, Japan finished fourth above Malaysia in the final ranking. Pakistan took third place behind South Korea and China. Who could forget Japans shocking 1-0 victory over favorites Holland in inaugural World Cup in Barcelona which helped Pakistan qualify for the semi-final and clinch the inaugural cup in 1971. Pakistan may be suffering psychologically from its defeat in recent years but the team has proved that it could come back strongly when its forwards combine and strike well. It put a good fight against Australia at New Delhi CWG and the defeat margin against India in pool league which ended 7-4 in favour of the hosts, was a freak result. Had Pakistan scored through an opening minute attack against India, the final result would have been different. India for the first time in many years clicked and played strongly and deserved to win. With experienced players like Sohail Abbas, Zeeshan Ashraf, Rehan Butt and Kashif Abbasi in the playing XI, Pakistan could do well in China. Luck has always played important role in sports and particularly at league stage. Pakistan would be needing it in some good measure to turn its fortunes. In pool A three teams will be fighting to clinch top spots. They are Doha Games gold medallist South Korea, silver medallist China and fifth placed Malaysia. Pakistan will play their first match against Hong Kong on November 17, second match against Japan on November 18, third match against India on November 20 and fourth and last pool match against Bangladesh on November 21. Classification matches and semi-finals will be played on November 23, while position matches and final match will be played on November 25. In the meantime, the PHF selection committee has called three players including Sohail Abbas for the training camp for Asian Games to be held from October 26 in Islamabad. Earlier, the selection committee called 22 players for the camp. The other new two players are Khalid Bhatti and Abdul Qayyum Dogar. Chief selector Hanif Khan met with Sohail Abbas recently in Karachi. After the meeting, the former Olympian said: Pakistan needed experienced penalty corner specialist like Sohail Abbas. He was in his good form and fitness at this time. The 25 camp players are Zeeshan Ashraf, Salman Akbar, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmad, Muhammad Rashid, Fareed Ahmad, Shafqat Rasool, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Abdul Haseem Khan, Muhammad Zubair, Waqas Sharif, Muhammad Rizwan, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Imran Butt, Imran Shah, Muhammad Tauseeq, Waqas Akbar, Muhammad Rizwan, Syed Kashif Shah, Kashif Javed, Sohail Abbas, Khalid Bhatti and Kashif Javed.