PHF drops senior players from Azlan Shah squad
Karachi: The Pakistan Hockey Federation selectors dropped senior players, Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi from the squad for the Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia next month.
Chief selector Hanif Khan said that the seniors had been given a rest and could comeback into the team after proving their fitness in the next training camp and trials.
"We have not dropped them we have rested them because they looked tired and jaded in this camp and not ready for an international competition," he said.
But Butt and Abbasi reacted strongly to their omission from the squad.
"This is an insult to us the selectors should never have invited us to the camp if they were not interested in selecting us," Abbasi said.
He said that the seniors had made themselves available for national duty on the insistence of the PHF President as they had decided to retire from international hockey after the World Cup debacle in India in February-March.
"If they didn`t want to select us they should not have told us don`t retire, it is disappointing to be treated like this," star forward Rehan Butt said.
Pakistan which finished 12th in the World Cup leading to the sacking of the team management and selection committee and announcement by the team that they were retiring from international hockey will be pitted against Korea, India, Germany, Malaysia in the Azlan Shah Cup from May 6th.
Ace penalty corner striker, Sohail Abbas who was tipped to be named captain for the Azlan Shah walked out of the hockey club of Pakistan even before the squad was announced as apparently he was told he was not being selected.
Three other senior players including captain, Zeeshan Ashraf and Waseem had already pulled out of the Azlan Shah on pretext of wanting a rest from hockey.
Hanif Khan said the selectors had picked the best possible players in the trials and they were five or six promising youngsters in the team.
"We need to move ahead but we are not discounting these senior players out totally but they are not giving the performances one expects from players of their calibre and experience," he said.
Pakistan squad: M Imran, Imran Butt, Imran Shah, Aamir Shehzad, Kashif Ali (Sr.), M Irfan, Fareed Ahmed, M Rashid, Zeeshan Ali, M Tauseef, Waqa Shairf, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, M Zubair, Abdul Qayyum, M Rizwan, Umar Bhutta and Kahsif Ali (Jr.).