ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team head coach and manager Shahnaz Sheikh Sunday made it clear it would take at least three years to take Pakistan Hockey back to old glory days.
“I am working very hard with the boys, spending hours and hours in training and I am quite satisfied with their application, dedication and mental and physical fitness levels. But I once again want to make it clear that I had just accepted the responsibility as I believe in my abilities and I am sure boys have potential and desire to excel at the top. For the last two-weeks of training, I managed to remove number of flaws form their basic technique and I had witnessed quite notable change in their approach.”
Shahnaz said time was too short to completely transform the team ahead of Asian Games. “Juniors are very good but I still believe Shakeel Abbasi is the fittest of them. He showed tremendous commitment in the field and is super fit among the entire lot. I am trying my level best to take best out of these players and try to defend the Asian Games title. I am quite hopeful boys will not let themselves and federation down and if they play according to their potential, they are very tough nut to crack.”
He said injuries are already taking its toll and he was fully aware with the fact that they had to deal with injuries. “As for the last several years, such a long training camp was never established by the federation. Now I have total strength of 32 in the camp. I have requested to the PHF to send four more players. Three players including Hammad Butt, Faisal and Kashif Shah had already joined the camp and I am waiting for further reinforcements, which are expected to arrive in a day or two. It would boost our defense and the competition for places will hot up.”
“We have four goalkeepers in the camp and all are very good. But for the time being experienced Imran Shah is doing very well who is facing tough competition from young Adnan, Iqbal and Mazhar. “It is a very healthy sign as for the first time we have invited number of stoppers and my main focus is on strengthening defense, as defense is our main area of concern and we had conceded too many goals in the past. I had introduced new style of play, which is helping players a great deal. I used to organise competitive matches between seniors and juniors on daily basis. if junior team managed to beat seniors, they get double reward. I had drawn comprehensive plan to overcome alarming ratio of missing in front of goal. Our forwards did create number of chances, but they fail to convert on majority of cases. That was the reason behind Pakistan team in the past managed to score less goal and conceded too many. In new style, if boys managed to adopt, we would be able to control damages and missing ratio would decline sharply.”
Shahnaz said when he took over the reins of the team, his main goal was 2016 Olympics and all the details of agreement were verbally agreed, but I am expecting a written contract with the PHF very soon. On a query regarding how much salary he expects, Shahnaz replied: “I am very experienced coach. I had loads of experience behind my back. I had in the past too prove my credentials and I am going to repeat that once again. If a foreign coach was earning a very hefty amount, I expect same treatment from the federation. I deserve that and my results would speak itself.”