LAHORE - National hockey team skipper Sohail Abbas on Sunday said Pakistan have a very good chance of winning gold medal in the London Olympic Games this year.

“I am confident that we will put in their maximum effort in training and that will be visible through our performance. While having complete faith in Allah, and working hard in training and going with the positive intent of performing, we can be very hopeful of having a good chance,” quoted Sohail Abbas as saying.

Sohail further said that the team’s job was to put in efforts and the rest was in Allah’s power, he told. “With all help of the prayers, we are confident that as a team we will perform well and strive to be in the top four,” he said.

Talking about the Pakistan-India encounter in the London Games, Sohail said in Olympics, every match was equally important and “we will treat each one as a final, not taking any one match lightly or easy”.

Commenting about the team participating in the Azlan Shah tournament which will be played on blue turf, Sohail said that the team had never practised or played in such conditions.

“These things will call for some adjusting to the play conditions but I am confident that we will be able to get accustomed to these conditions fairly easily,” he said.

Responding to a question, Sohail said player should also be passionate towards the game of hockey and the entire team should play as one unit. “If you play as a team, all these things don’t matter. Once you stop playing as a team, that’s when these factors about them being physically bigger and stronger come into play,” he said.

Sohail, who also watches cricket and follows it when he’s on a tour, said, “I make sure to follow Pakistan’s matches when on tour. When we have lengthy training sessions over four, five, or six days, we often contact to the team management and told them that players want some rest and relaxation and after getting permission play cricket.”

On a query, Sohail said that he had adopted the things that he liked and that thought better for the team. It wasn’t that something was better than something else. There was no particular idol, but the thing about former Pakistan captain Akhtar Rasool Sahib is that he was so passionate and one of the players who had reached the summit of success.

Sohail Abbas said that his successor in hitting penalty-corners will be the entire team and if players work hard on penalty corners then the team will achieve success as there will be someone who hits the ball and someone who receives it. It is not just one player, but the entire team who leads success. Pakistan has a good mixture of seniors and youngsters and all the players are working hard and will continue the tradition. Yesteryear Pakistan team filled with several individual players with extraordinary talent and that time they achieved lot of successes and Pakistan was well on top in hockey whereas other teams weren’t doing that well. Every player in his position was the best, he remarked..

In today’s time it is no longer like that but in the 2010 Asia Games Pakistan had a good team that won the gold medal after 20 years.  Sohail Abbas said that his greatest achievement is yet to come as the management is working on every of the game and concentrating on the basics of the game including finishing and hitting or stopping.

He said in the present hockey every thing has been changed, become faster and fitness-oriented game, which has made it fun. One thing they can improve is to add the Asian style of the game to the European structure of hockey, he added.

Sohail Abbas said that he always advocating that the player should be passionate towards the game and the entire team should play as one unit.  If you play as a team, all these things don’t matter and once you stop playing as a team then these factors become physically bigger and stronger. Furthermore, as far as physique is concerned, players who are smaller and slim are also much quicker and sharper in their game, he added.

He said that Shahbaz (senior) was quick, slim, and excellent at dodging due to his physique while the European teams of today, are tough, but not as large in size as you need to be a certain size to be nimble on the pitch. If you think about, our real issue is the problem of acclimatization in European conditions, he added.

Sohail said blue turf is not a problem for us but they have never practised or played in such pitches and use yellow balls but needs some adjustment to familiar with these conditions. Another point is that other teams have played there and this is the first time for Pakistan will be playing in such condition but he is confident that if their players able to train for four to five days they should be able to get accustomed to these conditions fairly easily, he stated.

There are several good upcoming players like Taufeeq, Kashif Shah, Rizwan and Umar Bhutta if they deliver then Pakistan will achieve their desired results, he concluded.