ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar pins high hopes on national hockey team saying it will surely perform well during the World Hockey League, and succeed in qualifying for the World Cup.

Khokhar said this while talking to The Nation after the dinner hosted in honour of national team and officials at his residence prior to their departure for Hockey World League semifinals commencing from June 15 in England. Also present on the occasion were PHF secretary Shahbaz Senior, Saleem Sherwani, Naveed Alam, Mussadaq Hussian, Rehan Butt and others.

Khokhar said when he took over the reins of the PHF, the things were very grim, but with tireless efforts of Shahbaz and his team, Pakistan hockey started producing results. “Our young guns have done remarkably well and I hope same from my senior team. Haseem Khan has been made skipper, who is well-educated and experienced player and enjoys great respect among his teammates. I am sure he will not disappoint the nation and ensure green shirts qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

He said the boys were doing exceptional job at national and international level. “I invited them to my home to give them family feeling, as they are very much part of my family. I also met with each and every U-18 player prior to their departure for Australia. I know most of the players belong to humble backgrounds, so I wanted to assure them that they need not worry about earning bread and butter for their families, instead they should focus on their games. Thanks God, all the 21 members of U-18 team, which is in Australia, have been appointed as team by ZTBL,” he added.

Sharing his views, PHF secretary Shahbaz Senior said Haseem was the perfect choice to lead the national team. “We have done what we could in our limited resources, as we not only arranged tours for senior and junior teams but also conducted matches between them. The matches between senior and junior teams surely helped us in improving the game and skills of the players.

“We have prepared senior team very well. They will leave for London on May 27 and travel to Ireland to play three test matches against Irish national hockey team from June 1 to 4. They will return to London on June 10. The boys will train in Ireland for five days. I hope they will try to qualify for the next year’s Hockey World Cup,” he added.

Pakistan captain Abdul Haseem Khan said: “I am satisfied with the players and the training we had undergone. It was highly proud moment for me and the entire team that the PHF chief invited us at his home, which gave us a feeling which was hard to describe in words.

“We will not disappoint the nation and try to book berth in the next year’s World Cup. We have a blend of youth and experience, while the boys are determined to excel. The early arrival in England and series against Ireland will surely boost our chances and help us adjust to the conditions and produce better results,” Haseem concluded.