Pakistan hockey squad recall drag flicker Abbas

Karachi: Pakistan on Tuesday recalled penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas in their 16-man squad for this month’s Asian Games in a bid to win the title for the first time in 20 years.

The 35-year-old Abbas had quit international hockey in 2004 but came back for a second stint, which ended on a bitter note earlier this year when Pakistan finished 12th and last in the World Cup held in India.

However, Abbas was recalled Tuesday in a bid to boost Pakistan’s hockey fortunes, which have slumped in recent years. The team finished a poor sixth in last month’s Commonwealth Games, also in India.

Abbas holds the world record for most goals, with 306.

Pakistan won its last of seven Asian titles in Beijing in 1990. They need to win the Asian title to gain direct entry to the London Olympics in 2012.

Pakistan’s Dutch coach Michel van den Heuvel is confident his team will do well in the Asian Games.

“I am very sure that with the team we have got, we would be in a position to give India a befitting response,” van den Heuvel said last week.

Pakistan is placed in Group B of the ten-team Asian Games hockey competition along with arch-rivals India, Japan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. Pool A comprises defending champions South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Oman.

Full-back Zeeshan Ashraf will lead the Pakistan team.

Squad: Zeeshan Ashraf, Mohammad Imran, Salman Akbar, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Irfan, Waseem Ahmad, Mohammad Rashid, Fareed Ahmad, Mohammad Tauseeq, Abdul Haseem Khan, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Shafqat Rasool, Mohammad Zubair, Waqas Sharif and Mohammad Rizwan.

Bureau Report