LAHORE    -    Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Friday announced the 19-member national squad for the Olympic 2020 qualifiers after the conclusion of the trials held here at National Hockey Stadium.

Total 35 camp players were tested in five sessions of 15 minutes each. The trials were observed by the national selection committee comprising Manzoor Hussain Junior (chief selector), Kaleem Ullah, Ayaz Mahmood, Khalid Hameed, Nasir Ali and Waseem Feroze (members).

PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and Secretary Muhammad Asif Bajwa were also present on the occasion. Pakistan will play two friendly matches against Germany on October 22 and 23. They will then depart for Netherlands to compete in the Olympic qualifying matches against the hosts on October 26 and 27. Rizwan Senior will lead the side.

The 19-member national team includes Waqar (gk), Amjad Ali (gk), Mubashar Ali, Rizwan Ali, Ammad Butt (vc), Abu Bakar Mahmood, Moin Shakeel, Tasawar Abbas, Azfar Yaqoob, Rashid Mehmood, Ali Shan, Ajaz Ahmad, Umer Bhutta, Muhammad Rizwan Senior (c), Rana Sohail, Rana Waheed, Ghazanfar Ali, Hammad Anjum. Irfan Senior will be stand by.

The team management includes Olympian Khawaja Junaid (manager/head coach), Wasim Ahmed, Zaheer Ahmad Babar, Ajmal Khan Lodhi and Sameer Hussain (coaches), Nadeem Lodhi (video analyst), Asad Abbas Shah (doctor) and Jesse Wilson Workman (trainer).

Talking to The Nation, Chief Selector Manzoor Hussain Junior said that Pakistan hockey is on consistent decline due to lack of funds. “The government and private sector have to come forward to the rescue of the national game, which if gets proper patronage by the government as well as corporate sector, it is my promise that Pakistan hockey will be back to track and our team will start producing better results and hopefully, they will pose serious challenges to top teams in 2024 Olympics.”

Manzoor, golden player of his era, said: “Our main focus is on grassroots level and under the dynamic leadership of PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, we are trying to find and groom the best talent, which if provided the best facilities and maximum international exposure, will be more than capable of beating any given opponent at international level.”