LAHORE – Nokhaiz Zahid Malik will captain the 10-member Pakistan U-16 boys’ team in a five-a-side 2nd U-16 Boys Asia Cup being played from April 4 to 7 in Singapore.

Former Olympian and camp commandant Tahir Zaman announced the team at a press news conference after supervising a training session here on Tuesday at National Hockey Stadium. “It is a balanced combination which is capable of producing good results in the event to be participated by eight teams.”

The team members are Shahzad Hafeez and Rehman Khan (goalkeepers), Nokhaiz Zahid Malik (capt), M Ateeq (vc), Musbashar Ali, Sikandar Mustafa, Junaid Kamal, Adeel Latif, Juniad Manzoor and Shan Irshad.

Tahir said the team had two goal keepers because due to fast paced nature of this format, goalkeepers were more at injury risk and to avoid this factor, the team management had decided to have two custodians. “It will be our first-ever participation in five-a-side hockey which is played on a shorter arena and we are quite confident that our team will live up to the expectations by finishing at the top,” he said.

The camp commandant said the Singapore event was the qualifying round for the next year’s U-16 Youth Olympics to be held in China. The camp would continue till March 31 and the team would fly to Singapore on April 1.

The former Olympian said grooming of Pakistan Youth team was a part of future planning to make sure that by the time of year 2017, a strong junior team was fully prepared to take part in the Junior World Cup to be held in the same year.

“Such a long-term plan was taken into consideration never before. Now it is our responsibility to make sure that we make right progress in right direction by grooming talented players.”

Tahir said from Singapore tournament, two teams would qualify for Youth Olympics and he was rating his side favourite to finish among the two. “We are taking every measure to impart best possible modern training to our players who are very talented and they have shown remarkable improvement in the training.”