Pakistan goes for 'youth' in new national senior team management

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Lahore, Nov 15 (UNI) Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has showed faith in 'young' coaches when they named the trio of Ayaz Mahmood, Kamran Ashraf and Muhammad Shahbaz Junior in a new national senior team management panel.

PHF president Qasim Zia, said the three coaches were preferred over older options because of their experience of playing hockey on synthetic turfs.

''We have chosen these coaches with the belief that they would be better off than the ones whose hockey experience is confined to grass,'' Qasim said yesterday.

The new team management has been given the task of helping Pakistan to earn a direct berth for the 2010 World Cup in India.

Pakistan can do that by winning the Asia Cup penciled in for next July in Dubai.

''We will review the coaches' performance after the Asia Cup and will decide whether to retain them on the basis of how the team fares in Dubai,'' PHF secretary Asif Bajwa told 'The News'.

It's a sort of a short-term plan contrary to expectations in the national hockey circles where it was generally believed that the new coaches will be appointed for at least a two-year term.

However, Kamran, doesn't mind the short-term appointment.

''It's fair enough,'' he said. ''I mean we will be allowed to continue if our team wins the Asia Cup and that's a big challenge,'' he pointed out.

Kamran acknowledged that winning the Asia Cup will be a tough task but was quick to add that with proper preparations, Pakistan will achieve the target.

Pakistan would lock horns against India, Korea and China in a bid to win the 2009 Asia Cup.

Kamran and Shahbaz will be at the helm of the senior team that will return to active duty for a one-off match against Pakistan Juniors at Lahore's National Stadium on November 21. The match will be played in a bid to compensate for the cancellation of a junior Test series between Pakistan and India.

Ayaz, who is currently posted at PIA's Moscow station, is expected to return home and take charge as chief national coach within the next couple of weeks.

The PHF chief said the young coaches will make it sure that their charges attain peak physical fitness for major international assignments.

''World class fitness is required to excel in today's hockey and I'm sure that our new coaches will help the boys to achieve it.'' Apart from naming a new set of officials, the PHF has also hired the services of Wouter Tazelaar, a Dutch expert, in a bid to set up training facilities all over the country.

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