KARACHI  - Pakistan’s newly installed captain Sohail Abbas believed that Azlan Shah Cup will be a big challenge for his young team ahead of London Olympics.

“If the boys played as a unit and remained consistent it can be a big boost for the team before the Olympics,” he told APP in an exclusive interview on Monday.

He said in presence of Argentina, Belgium, India, Korea, New Zealand and host Malaysia, a giant effort is required from young guns to make their mark.

“It will also be a new experiment for the players as they will be playing on the blue turf for the first time,” Sohail Abbas, who holds the world record of scoring 338 goals in 367 internationals, said. “Blue turf may pose some problems because of none of us have played on it. But being an international player we got to adopt to it quickly before Olympics,” he pointed out. “This is a team game and a collective effort is required for fruitful results,” he commented.

“We needed a few good wins in Azlan Shah Cup to lift the morale and spirits of the team,” he added. “Moreover as whole nation is looking at you, you need to play with a great deal of enthusiasm,,” he remarked.

He thanked Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for reposing confidence in him as a captain. “It’s a great honour from me to lead the team and I want to thank Almighty with whose blessings I was bestowed with this honour,” said Sohail Abbas, who played in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics but missed the Beijing Olympics, asserted. He said Pakistan got a number of talented youngsters like his deputy Waqas Sharif, Haseem Khan, Shabbir Ahmed Khan, Shafqat Rasool, M Zubair. M Rizwan and Umar Bhutta in the forward line. He said he will be playing both as deep defender and in the middle field. S Abbas said team also got upcoming penalty corner strikers M Tausiq and M Irfan to support him.

“Like always my fitness level is at the top. I am looking forward to my new role to serve the country to best of my abilities. Sohail Abbas represented Pakistan in last Champions Trophy held in Auckland last December but went out of action after he broke his jaw in the second match of the event.

He missed 4-match Test series against China.