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October 26, 2019

It’s D-day as Pakistan take on Netherlands


October 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan go into the first match of their 2020 Olympics hockey qualifier against Holland at Amstelveen on Saturday (today) aiming to defy all odds with head coach Khwaja Junaid saying that the Green-shirts have nothing to lose in the back-to-back matches.

Talking to ‘The News’ from Holland, Junaid said all disadvantages were with Pakistan. “We have just started reappearing in international circuit and matches against Germany were our first in more than a year time. On the other hand, Holland are among the most active in the world. Besides playing all international events in recent times, they kept themselves busy in the FIH Pro League that Pakistan missed. This is one of the biggest gaps between the two outfits. Our first effort will be to bridge that gap.

“We lost two games against Germany by big margins. Those who have seen Pakistan playing both tests can vouch that the team played the second test much better. At the end of three quarters in the second match we were trailing 3-2. Had the German umpires not made two mistakes we would have ended the match 4-2. I have to admit the two matches have given the team enough to realise their weaknesses and the biggest is lack of experience of playing against the best,” said the head coach.

“Holland have the advantage of home conditions. They are ranked third and we are 17th, not because we lacked hockey resources but because we missed so many international commitments during the last two years. Had we figured in the Pro League alone, we would have been playing against a weaker opponent today.

“Two of our leading players, Rizwan Senior and Abu Bakar, are down with injuries while goalkeeper Waqar Younis and another player were refused visas. Luckily defender Irfan is reaching in time for Saturday’s match from London,” said Junaid.

He added that he had planned to make the team fight till the last by covering all areas. “We have watched Holland’s recent videos and have worked on that,” he said.

Junaid said the Green-shirts would have to plug the gaps and take opponents head on rather than playing defensively. “Only by doing that can we take the game back to the hosts. I can realise that it will be a very tough outing for Pakistan. Every player must give his hundred percent,” he said.

Pakistan head coach hoped that if Pakistan succeeded in holding Holland for the first two quarters, the match would become interesting. “I know it is tough but not impossible. We can make a match out of it if we play according to a plan.”

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