Skipper Rehan axed from Pakistan squad, Salman to take up rein

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Lahore, Nov 12 (UNI) The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has axed skipper Rehan Butt from the team and named goalkeeper Salman Akbar as the new captain of the national side for the upcoming Champions Trophy.

Salman will lead a 20-member side in the prestigious eight-nation tournament scheduled to start at Kuala Lumpur from November 29.

The squad was announced after an extensive two-day training camp by the President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in the presence of chief selector Khawaja Zakauddin and members of the selection committee, Olympian Abdul Rasheed and Samiullah Khan and PHF Secretary Khalid Mahmood.

''Rehan has been rested to gain top form and fitness and can bounce back in the team with good performance,'' Jamali told mediapersons yesterday after naming the squad.

The 20-member squad has two new faces in young forward Inayatullah and Muhammad Afzal, while half-backs Dilawar Bhatti and Ghazanfar Ali have been recalled in the side after almost a year.

Meanwhile, responding to a question on the exclusion of Olympian Sohail Abbas, Waseem Ahmed, penalty corner specialist Imran Warsi and Ihsanullah, the PHF chief said, ''We cannot pick those players who failed to attend the camp.'' ''Pakistan have been facing selection problems because of injuries to some key players. But the team management is making all out efforts to bring the best out of the players. Despite the recent decline, Pakistan is still a force to reckon with,'' he added.

Warsi failed to attend the camp because of a shoulder surgery, while Ihsanullah developed knee cartilage problem during the camp and was advised four weeks rest.

Jamali also expressed his disappointment over the shifting of the Champions Trophy to Kuala Lumpur from Lahore.

Squad: Goalkeepers : Salman Akbar (captain), Nasir Ahmed.

Full-backs : Zeeshan Ashraf, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Kashif, Kamran.

Half-backs : Imran Khan, Adnan Maqsood, Dilawar Hussain Bhatti, Ghazanfar Ali, Sajjad Anwar.

Forwards : Waqas Sharif, Shakeel Abbas, Waqas Akber, Shabbir Ahmed Khan, Abbas Hyder, Akhtar Ali, Muhammad Arshad, Inyatullah, Muhammad Afzal.


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