In preparation for the 2022 Asian Games, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has named a 20-member squad for their upcoming European tour following the formal approval of PHF President Brigadier R Khalid Sajjad Khokhar.Umar Bhutta will lead the team, with Ali Shan as his deputy, when the Men in Green resume their international schedule after a two-year break. The national hockey team will leave Lahore for Amsterdam at 5:45 am on Friday for a tour of Europe.
According to a media release issued by Pakistan Hockey Federation on Saturday, during the European trip, the national team will play five international matches before the start of the aAsia Cup to be held in Jakarta from May 21. The Greenshirts have played very little international hockey during the last two years, especially against the strong European countries due to which their performance graph has gone down sharply.
In a five-match tour, the Green Shirts will face the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and France. The tour, according to PHF officials, would assist Pakistani players to develop their skills and prepare them for upcoming mega-events such as the important Asian Games.
According to the schedule, the Pakistan hockey team will train for three days in Belgium. The first match between Pakistan and Netherlands will be played on April 26 in Breda. The first match will be played at 1 o’clock in the day according to day time. The Pakistan team will train in Belgium on April 28. The Pakistan team will play against Belgium on April 29. The Pakistan team will leave for Spain on May 1, where a three-match series between Pakistan and Spain will be played. All three matches of the series will be played in Barcelona. The first match against Spain will be played on May 2, the second ten and the third match on May 4. Later on May 5, the Pakistan hockey team will fly back home.
Head coach Siegfried Aikman in a video statement expressed the optimism that Pakistan players would perform well during the tour.
“The Europe tour will boost the morale of our players, which is necessary for their outstanding show in the upcoming Asia Cup. The matches can be used to gauge the performance of players,” he said.
According to Aikman, the tour will help identify the grey areas and plan accordingly.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Akmal and Abdullah Ishtiaq Defenders: Mubbasher Ali; Amad Butt; Mohammad Abdullah; Arbaz Ali; Mohammad Rizwan and Hammad Anjum Midfielders: Umar Bhutta (captain); Ali Shaan (vice-captain); Ghazzanfer; Moin Shakeel; Abdul Manan and Junaid Manzoor.
Forwards: Abubaker Mehmood; Roman Khan; Rana Waheed; Hanan Shahid; Salman Razak and Ajaz. Manager: Khawaja Junaid. Coach: Siegfried Aikman. Assistant coach: Waseem Ahmad. Video analyst: Nadeem Lodhi.
President Pakistan Hockey Federation Brigadier R Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and Secretary General Olympian Asif Bajwa have expressed their best wishes for the success of the team.