LAHORE - Former Olympian and chief coach and manager of Pakistan hockey team Chaudhary Akhtar Rasool is optimistic to utilize the expertise and talent of senior players in a most effective way by gelling them with the junior players to lift the fortune of the team in its bid to produce a better show in London Olympics.
Talking to the media on the eve of the departure of the team for England, Akhtar Rasool said: “We have chalked out a plan to utilize the services of senior players by blending them with the junior players to draw a combination which is equally against every opponent in Olympics.”
Pakistan team will be having a 10-day training camp in Birmingham to give final touch to its preparations for Olympics.
The present management is banking upon the potentialities of senior players including captain Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi and Waseem Ahmad with a mindset that there is no substitute of experience and these players still have much hockey left in them to raise the performance of the team by becoming inspiration for fellow colleagues who are lesser in experience and age.
“The junior players are proving themselves and their recent performance in the European tour and the training camp at Abbottabad was impressive and he is confident that if the team plays with the same rhythm and momentum which it struck in the camp, it has the ability to chatter the confidence of world’s top hockey nations,” he added.
“We have worked hard on improving fitness of the players and it was a pleasant surprise for us that senior players are maintaining a higher side of stamina and fitness to remain in action during 70 minutes play, no matter they are coming in the field in patches but having a higher line of stamina,” he said.
To a query, Akhtar replied: “I don’t want to make tall claims, the most important task ahead of me is to keep the players in high spirit and to develop a desire of success in them to get best out of the players even in tough matches.”
“In next 10 to 15 days, we will be playing five practice matches to gear up for Olympics in a most comprehensive manner. We are better in technique and we have worked really hard on missing chances inside the circle and utilizing the forwards in new roles assigned to them besides working on bettering the confidence of goalkeeper Imran Shah,” he said.  He termed the first match of Olympics against Spain ‘a match of greater importance’ to determine Pakistan team’s path in the mega event.