India will have an edge in Asian CT: Pak captain
New Delhi: Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran feels that India will enjoy a competitive edge over arch-rival in the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy next month but said that building a balanced team for London Olympics is more important than defeating the neighbours.
"This Indian side is strong and experienced whereas we have almost new look team for the tournament. India may have an edge on the basis of experience but as far as we are concerned rather than defeating India, building a balanced team for London 2012 Olympics is more important for us," Imran said.
"We don`t have Sohail Abbas in the team. On the other hand, Indian drag flicker Sandeep Singh is making a comeback who always does well against us. Pakistan has more junior players in the team and naturally there will be added pressure on them to perform against India. India may enjoy upper hand in this particular tournament," said the drag flicker.
Pakistan team did not include several leading senior players like Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and goalkeeper Salman Akbar for the inaugural edition of the Asian Champions Trophy which is going to be played in Ordos, China from September 3 to 11.
In the absence of senior pros, Imran said it`s the best chance to judge their bench strength keeping an eye on bigger tournaments like Champions Trophy (December) and Olympics.
"We want to broaden the pool before the London Olympics. This is the best chance to judge our bench strength against some quality teams. Top six Asian teams are taking part in the tournament and it will be a good exposure for our young side," he said.
Pakistan broke the jinx of four consecutive defeats against India during the Azlan Shah Cup in May and Imran hopes that his team can carry forward the momentum.
"It is always difficult to face India on their soil. Crowd support is a major factor and we had experienced that in the World Cup and Commonwealth Games last year. But the situation is different at neutral venues," said Imran.
"I am also confident of breaking the jinx of defeats in India. We will play differently in the upcoming Champions Trophy and in four-nation tournament. Our coach Michel Van Den Heuvel had arranged for special sessions with psychologist during the Europe tour to make us tougher mentally," he added.
Imran was equally optimistic of podium finish in London.
"Our preparation is well on track. We had one-month long Europe tour recently where we played against quality teams like Germany, Holland and Belgium. We will play more and more international matches in coming months. If we can manage to continue the rhythm, we will have a podium finish in London for sure," the skipper said.
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