LAHORE, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 19th Dec, 2016 ) - PIA hockey team will be aiming to perform a hat-trick during the national hockey championship which commences here from December 23 but the task appears uphill as team's few young players have joined other departments to earn better financial benefits. The team management is under load of responsibility for a possible title defence and performing a rare feat of a hat-trick and much task has been left on the old guards and fresh blood in the side.
The presence of Wapda and National Bank of Pakistan, the two power houses of national hockey , is a visible threat to PIA which needs a rare guard action to salvage its pride. Then, PIA faces another serious threat in shape of Sui Gas team which has impressed with its result oriented performance in a few national tournament, establishing its status as a hockey force to reckon with. The chief coach of the PIA team, former Olympian centre forward, Muhammad Irfan Senior , while talking to APP on Monday said he is very concerned regarding team's present situation but is quite confident to gel the experience with young players to inspire the team to an excellence level to see his team crowing a hat trick .
Irfan along with former Pakistan captain, Shahid Ali Khan who is the manager of PIA team and other coaches, is supervising the training camp of PIA team which started here on December 12. Those U18 players who were part of PIA colt scheme left the team include Ammar Butt, Nohez Malik, Asfar Yaqoob and Atif Mushtaq as they were getting a very low monthly stipend of Rs ten thousands whereas they have been inducted in other teams on attractive packages.
When asked on this aspect , Irfan remained tight lipped . Irfan, who represented Pakistan hockey team from 1987 to 93, has sky-high inspiration with him in captain of Pakistan hockey team, Mohammad Irfan who is capable enough to lead the PIA side from front. The other notable experienced players of PIA are, veteran Shafqat rasool, Muhammad Zuabir, Aamir Shahzad, Ahsan ullah, Kashif Ali and goalkeeper Imran Butt. The U18 players who will be guarding the fort with steadfast defenders are Wasim Akram, Awais ur Rehman, Taimur and Tanzeem ul Hasan, said Irfan who holds the unique distinction of being PIA head coach for winning 18 titles out of the 20 finals played so far in last sixteen years.
"Definitely we will be missing our young players but my choices are quite limited and my job is to prepare the team to exhibit higher level of quality hockey to grab the title" ,he said adding " We have been playing Wapda in final of most the national tournaments and we are ready to face them again in a decent way and we are not bothered how strong or fancied our opponents (Wapda, NBP and Sui Gas) are." "We are playing practice and preparatory matches with other teams to warm up for a tough challenge and we are working on improving players skills and techniques besides infusing confidence in them to play every match of the event with a clear mindset that their task is to retain the title." APP/msa/msk/bmq