PHF recalls Sohail Abbas for Asian Games` camp

Karachi: Pakistan Hockey Federation, stung by the national team`s poor performance in Delhi Commonwealth Games, have recalled experienced penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas for the Asian Games training camp.

Chief selector Hanif Khan said Sohail was called for the camp after a meeting in Karachi in which the player expressed his keenness to play for Pakistan.

The PHF had ignored Sohail for the Commonwealth Games over a dispute over his appearance in a domestic tournament and had written to his department to take disciplinary action against him.

The Federation had also suspended the central contract given to the experienced fullback and stopped his monthly payments.

But on Thursday the PHF appeared to fall back on its most experienced player for the Asian Games when it announced the probables for the training camp that will began in Islamabad this week.

Hanif said Pakistan needs an experienced penalty corner specialist like Sohail, who is in his good form and fitness at this time.

The PHF is already under pressure after the national team flopped in the Commonwealth Games, finishing at sixth position and also in the World Cup held earlier this year in the Indian capital, where it finished on a miserable 12th position. Statements by PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa and some players about the crowd behaviour in India affecting the players performance during the Commonwealth Games have not been
received well by the hockey community here.

Former Olympians, Islahuddin Siddiqui, Shahnaz Sheikh and Samiullah said that these appeared to be lame excuse for the poor show.

"When we went to India and played in the World Cup and Asian Games there was greater pressure on us from the partisan crowd. But that can be expected from any home crowd,"Islahuddin said.

Samiullah pointed out that a top team was supposed to deal with crowd pressures and still give its best performance.

"We played badly and that is all. Why blame the Indian crowd. The good thing is that the World Cup and Commonwealth Games showed that there is still a lot of interest in Indo-Pak hockey matches," Shahnaz said.

Interestingly, the PHF has been fending off criticism of the team`s performance and its own administration by claiming they were preparing and targeting the Asian Games hockey gold this year.


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