Mohmmad Irfan will be at the helm as the Pakistan hockey team looks to complete a hattrick of gold medals at the South Asian Games (SAG), the national federation announced on Wednesday.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Wednesday named a 16-member Pakistan Whites squad for participation in the biennial Games which is set to be staged in the Indian city of Guwahati.
Pakistan is drawn in pool “A” with Afghanistan and Bangladesh with India, Nepal and Sri Lanka placed in group “B” in the regional sporting extravaganza which kicks off from February 6-16.
Experienced defender Irfan will lead the Pakistan side while Fareed Ahmed will be his deputy at the 12th edition of the Games which will feature athletes from eight different South Asian nations.
The coaching staff includes the experience of former stars Mohammad Saqlain and Rehan Butt.
Butt said the management had picked players after watching them in action at the training camp and during the trials.
“We have picked a balanced squad with an eye on gold,” he said while announcing the team.
“Despite a strong challenge from hosts India, we would be battling for gold,” the former spearhead said.
“We needed to boost the game and it cannot be done without winning a gold in India,” he added.
The national squad for SAG ’16 is a mix of youth and experience as the PHF looks to revive the national sport after the ignominy of missing out on the 2014 World Cup and next year’s Rio Olympics.
Squad for SAG 2016
Mohammad Irfan (Capt), Syed Kashif Shah, Fareed Ahmad (Vice-Capt), Mohammad Aleem Bilal, Tasawar Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Toseeq Arshad, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Kashif Ali Ali Shan, Mohammad Arslan Qadir , Abdul Haseem Khan, Taimoor Malik, Sami Ullah, Awais-ur-Rehman
Stand-byes: Ejaz Ahmed, Mazhar Abbas, Shehar Yar, Abdul Karim Khan, Ali Raza, Zohaib Ashraf
Officials: Shahid Pervez Bhandara (Team Manager), Pervez Aslam Kayani (Assistant Manager), Mohammad Saqlain (Head Coach), Rehan Butt (Coach), Nadeem Ahmad Khan (Assistant Coach), Dr. Atif Bashir (Team Doctor)