PAKISTAN PHF axe Hockey World Cup flops for Malaysia hockey contest

Pakistan will feature in the 6-16 May Azlan Shah tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia.—File photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan Wednesday dropped seven senior players responsible for an abysmal World Cup hockey campaign, hoping to regain the glory from scratch with next month’s tournament in Malaysia.

Pakistan, three-time Olympic gold medalists and four-time world champions, finished last in the India World Cup earlier this year in what was described as their lowest ebb.

Captain Zeeshan Ashraf, Akhtar Ali and Mohammad Waseem requested a rest while world record goal-scorer Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi were not selected.

Goalkeeper Salman Akbar, also played in World Cup, did not attend the trials.

Chief selector Hanif Khan said three senior players requested rest, while others were rested by the selection committee as they had failed to impress in the trials in Karachi on Wednesday.

“We have rested senior players Abbas, Butt and Abbasi as they looked mentally stressed in the trials, so we have selected new players in a hope that it starts a new beginning for Pakistan hockey,” Khan told reporters.

Abbas, tipped to lead the side for the Malaysia event, is the only man to score over 300 goals in the history of international hockey.

The 18-man team will be led by 30-year-old full-back Mohammad Imran. Pakistan will feature in the 6-16 May Azlan Shah tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia.

The other competing teams are world champions Australia, Asian champions South Korea, hosts Malaysia, India, China and Egypt.

Khan hoped untested players would usher in a new era in Pakistan hockey.

“We have the Commonwealth Games in India and then the Asian Games later in the year, so we hope that this new team settles soon. Don’t expect medals from this team soon but, once it settles, it will win laurels,” said Khan.

Pakistan will also have a new coach in Khawaja Junaid after Shahid Ali Khan was sacked last month.

Mohammad Imran (captain), Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Aamir Shahzad, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Rashid, Zeeshan Ali, Mohammad Tauseeq, Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Zubair, Mohammad Rizwan, Andul Qayyum, Kashif Ali, Umar Bhutta.

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