Massive changes in Pak hockey team expected following Azlan Shah Cup debacle

Karachi: Ahead of the Olympics, talks about impending changes in the hockey team, including the captain’s arm-band, have started to gain momentum after Pakistan hit rock bottom at the Azlan Shah Cup.

The three-time champions lost five successive matches including defeats to lower-ranked teams to finish last in the seven-nation event. Penalty-corner specialist Sohail Abbas, leading the team for the first time, is likely to pay the most for the team’s poor show, reports The Express Tribune.

According to a Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) official, the results have forced the federation to mull over changes including captaincy.

"We never expected such a finish. All the players are responsible especially the captain. He (Abbas) was unimpressive on his first assignment and we don’t have much time to test him any further," the official was quoted, as saying.

"The PHF will ask the team management for a report after which a decision on the changes will be made," he added.

However, the official said that the PHF was likely to retain Abbas as captain for the upcoming Europe tour, adding that the body will also probe reports of grouping in the team during the Azlan Shah Cup.

He added that the chances of seniors making a comeback in the team increased after the pathetic show. Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt, who were handed a fine for participation in the unsanctioned World Series Hockey, are likely to make a comeback.