ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) announced 30 probables for one-week training camp of national hockey team for all-important Olympic qualifiers to be held in Belgium from June 20 to July 5.

The training camp will start from today (Thursday) here at Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium under the command of head coach and manager Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh, while Danish Kaleem, Syed Abu Zar Umrao and Asad Abbas Shah would assist him.

The camp was supposed to start at Lahore, but due to insufficient facilities and keeping in mind top class accommodation, meal at Pakistan Sports Complex, on the special request of Shahnaz Sheikh, the PHF has decided to start the camp at Islamabad. In the past, the camp was shifted to Lahore, just because of pathetic condition of astroturf at Naseer Bunda Stadium, which inflicted a number of injuries to players, and the PHF had time and again requested the PSB director general to order laying down of new astroturf at the venue.

Talking to The Nation, Shahnaz said: “I had traveled to Lahore and discussed in detail with PHF secretary Rana Mujahid and requested him to start camp at Islamabad, as players and coaches feel quite comfortable here. We have decided to practice in morning session at Naseer Bunda Stadium, physical training, gym and video sessions would also be conducted at PSB Islamabad, while we will go for evening training at Army Hockey Stadium. I am grateful to PSB Director General Technical and Training Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and assistant director hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain for their superb support for Pakistan hockey.”

“I would once again like to request the IPC secretary, who also holds the charge of PSB DG, to at least release pending prize money of players, which they earn by playing in the finals of Asian Games and Champions Trophy. Under tight financial position of the PHF, this amount will do hell lot to raise the morale of the players. I hope the prize money will be released before our departure to Belgium,” the head coach urged.

When asked about one-week training was enough for the high-profile Olympic qualifiers, Shahnaz replied: “Off course, one-week training is not enough, but we have taken great benefit of playing in Australia and Korea. The boys are in great shape and we have noticed a few minor flaws, as some of the players were struggling to cope with the competitive action in two high-profile events. We will work on that areas and the squad is also boosted with the arrival of Rizwan Senior and Rashid, who joined the camp after taking part in international leagues.”

Shahnaz also thanked Samir, Nasir Ali and Shafqat, who were assigned other duties for their great help and working with the boys during four-month training camps. “I hope they will carry on the good work and pass on their experiences to others,” Shahnaz concluded.

The players who will report in the camp today (Thursday) are Imran Butt, Mazhar Abbas, Amjad Ali, Ali Haider (goalkeepers), M Imran, M Irfan, Syed Kashif Shah, Kashif Ali (full backs), Tasawar Abbas, Fareed Ahmed, M Rizwan Jr, M Toseeq Arshad, Rashad Mahmood, Zohaib Ashraf, Ammad Shakeel Butt (halves), M Waqas Sharif, Shafqat Rasool, M Umar Bhutta, M Kashif Ali, M Dilber, M Rizwan Sr, Ali Shan, Rizwan Ali, M Azfar Yaqoob, M Bilal Qadir, M Arslan Qadir, M Faisal Qadir, Niwaz Ashfaq, Ejaz Ahmed, M Atif Mushtaq (forwards).

The team officials are Shahnaz Sheikh (head coach), Danish Kaleem (coach), Syed Abu Zar Umrao (video analyst) and Asad Abbas Shah (team doctor). The remaining coaches of the national senior hockey team have been given important and special assignments.