Pakistan gets into rebuilding mode for 2010 World Cup in India

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Lahore, Sept 5 (UNI) After a disastrous Olympic camapaign in Beijing last month where it finshed eighth, Pakistan will most likely overlook its several senior players for a four-nation hockey tournament in Germany in its bid to rebuild the team for the 2010 World Cup in India.

The three-time Olympic Champions had their worst showing in the Games' history this year where they lost to lower-ranked teams like Great Britain and New Zealand. Senior players, who failed to give their best, were blamed for the debacle.

The national hockey bosses gave a clear indication that the seniors will have to make way for the young brigade and the team will be built focussing on the 2010 World Cup scheduled to be held in New Delhi.

The national selectors ignored a number of experienced players including defender Zeeshan Ashraf, who captained Pakistan in Beijing, and forward Rehan Butt, mid-fielders Mohammad Saqlain, Adnan Maqsood and goalie Salman Akbar while naming a 37-man provisional squad for next month's Hamburg Masters.

''We are certainly planning a rebuilding phase in a bid to get ready for the next World Cup and Olympic Games,'' PHF secretary Asif Bajwa was quoted as saying.

''But that doesn't mean that some of the senior players who will not be playing in the Hamburg Masters have been dropped.

We have actually rested them after taking them in confidence,'' added Bajwa, a former Pakistan international.

Bajwa further added that by inducting new players in the squad for the Hamburg Masters, the PHF also wants to give international exposure to several of the country's under-21 players who will be featuring in next year's Junior World Cup to be jointly hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.

''We have to plan for the future to ensure that things get better for us,'' said Bajwa, who took over as the PHF secretary just weeks before the Olympics.

The preliminary squad for the Hamburg Masters was picked after top PHF officials, national selectors and coaches witnessed two-day trials held after the conclusion of the National Junior Hockey Championship.

The four-nation event will feature the newly-crowned Olympic champions Germany, Malaysia and Belgium. The camp will conclude on September 30 after which the national team will fly out for the Hamburg quadrangular which will get underway from October 3.

Following the Beijing debacle, Pakistan's head coach Khawaja Zakauddin and his deputy Naveed Alam decided to quit. The PHF is yet to name a new management for the senior national team.

Bajwa said the PHF has decided to appoint national junior team officials as the management for the Hamburg-bound squad which would mean former Olympian Jahangir Butt, who heads the national junior team management, will be the head coach while ex-Olympians Danish Kaleem and Kamran Ashraf will be his deputies for the Hamburg event.

UNI XC RAR AB BD1720

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