Sohail Abbas to lead Pakistan hockey team at London Olympics

Abbotabad: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Sunday named Sohail Abbas as captain for the London Olympics while announcing a squad of 20 players that would be trimmed down before the games this month.

The national selectors have recalled senior players Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammad Imran and Waseem Ahmed and also kept goalkeeper, Salman Akbar in the standbys while announcing the squad in Abbotabad where one-day trials wer conducted by the federation.

"The chief selector Hanif Khan and the manager/head coach of the national team, Akhtar Rasool will prune down the squad to 18 on July 8th while final line-up will be announced in Birmingham before the Olympics," a PHF official said.

The recall of the senior players and the retention of penalty corner specialist, Abbas highlights the desperation of the PHF in wanting a steady build-up to the Olympics that has been marred by poor performances in the Azlan Shah Cup and the sacking of Dutch coach, Michel Van Den in recent months.

Abbas was also captain in the Azlan Shah Cup and on the European tour but there were calls to axe him as captain and instead appoint Shakeel Abbasi in his place.

Both Butt and Abbasi very experienced forwards were fined by the PHF disciplinary committee for playing in the unsanctioned World Series Hockey in India.

The Pakistan 20-member squad includes: Imran Shah, Imran Butt, Muhammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas (Capt), Syed Kashif Shah, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mehmood, Muhammad Tousiq, Waseem Ahmed, Muhammad Waqas (Vice-Capt), Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Muhammad Rizwan Senior, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Muhammad Zubair and Ali Shan. Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (Manager/Head Coach).