ISLAMABAD: A sight of relief prevailed in Pakistan’s 20-man hockey team led by Umar Bhutta, after visas were issued on Thursday for the entire contingent for the important 15-day European tour, The news reported.
Following this, the team will depart for Holland early Friday morning as on the European trip they will play six international matches before the start of the Asian Cup to be held in Jakarta from May 21.
“We have received all our visas and are now flying to the Netherlands early Friday morning to give the national team some much needed international exposure ahead of the Asian Cup which will also serve as the World Cup qualifying round. “said Khawaja Junaid, the designated manager. of the national dress, said.
The former Olympian called the tour important for the future of hockey in Pakistan. “With the Asian Cup fast approaching, the European tour is of immense importance. The experience against Europe’s top teams is what our best players need,” he added.
“Hopefully the team members will become better players after the six test matches they have to play against the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. They are the best teams in Europe. All these teams have been busy playing in the FIH Pro League. The performance and results against the top teams will give us a true picture of the strength and combinations of the green shirts.”
The team is expected to return on May 5 where the second phase of training for Asian Cup preparations will start from the second week of May.
Guardians: Akmal and Abdullah Ishtiaq
Defenders: Moubbasher Ali; Amad Butt; Mohammad Abdullah; Arbaz Ali; Mohammad Rizwan and Hammad Anjum
Midfielders: Umar Bhutta (captain); Ali Shaan (vice-captain); Ghazanfer; Less Shakeel; Abdul Manan and Junaid Manzoor.
Attackers: Abubaker Mehmood; Roman Khan; Rana Waheed; Hanan Shahid; Salman Razak and Ajaz
Manager: Khawaja Junaid. Coach: Siegfried Aikman. Coach’s Assistant: Wasim Ahmad. Video analyst: Nadeem Lodhi.