Sunday May 29, 2022

Junior goalkeepers way to go for Pakistan hockey: Nasir

May 15, 2022

KARACHI: The goalkeeper coach Olympian Nasir Ahmed has endorsed the decision of the national selection committee of PHF to give preference to the junior goalkeepers during the European tour, where the goalkeepers conceded 18 goals in the tour in the five matches played.

Pakistan won two out of the five matches played in the European tour.

Now, Pakistan will participate in the Asia Cup from May 20 to June 1 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Asia Cup is also the qualifying rounds for the qualification in the Hockey World Cup 2023.

On Saturday, while talking to ‘The News’, Nasir Ahmed, who coached bunch of national goalkeepers along with the greats like Shahid Ali Khan, Mansoor, Ahmed Alam and others, said that the Pakistan hockey suffered in the international hockey events lately and one of the main reason was poor goalkeeping and defense.

He said that the goalkeepers like Abdullah Ishtiaq, Akmal Hussain and few others, who came from junior hockey are the future, keeping in mind that the European tour was their first international hockey assignment.

Brushing aside criticism of conceding too many goals, Nasir commended the goalkeepers’ efforts in playing an important role in winning two matches against two world best hockey teams, Netherlands and Spain.

Nasir said that playing against such big and giant hockey teams like world champions Belgium, ranked 3rd Netherlands and ranked 9th Spain, was not an easy task and by winning the matches against them meant that they were improving and learning fast. Most importantly, he said that they proved that they can stand in front of the world’s best teams.

He added that this was achieved despite the fact that they had little international exposure due to the pandemic and training opportunities were limited.

The goalkeeper coach hoped that the experience of handling pressure of international hockey matches by the junior lot including goalkeepers would work out well in the Asia Cup.

Praising the performance of Pakistan hockey team goalkeepers, Nasir said they clearly showed that they are talented, skillful, confident and improving and learning after each match.

He said that going with the senior goalkeepers were not bringing results and the team performance was dismal in the tournaments. The idea behind investing in Junior goalkeepers was that whether they lost in initial matches but they would learn and get experience with the passage of time and perform well in the tough competitions coming ahead such as Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Hockey World Cup and other important international hockey events.

The coach was optimistic that Pakistan would play much better hockey in the Asia Cup 2022, where its first match would be against arch rival India.

Nasir Ahmed said that India and Japan are both strong teams and Green-shirts would have to play with brave heart because these matches would be the way of our qualification in the Hockey World Cup.