The Pakistan Hockey Federation PHF is pinning hopes to U16 hockey team, who will be competing in the upcoming U16 Asia Cup to be held in Singapore from April 47, and looking for some impressive show from the colts to bail themselves out after the senior team’s debacle in Azlan Shah Cup held in Malaysia.
Pakistan ended at sixth spot in the six nations Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, the fact that raised many eyebrows back home. Many former players have criticized the federation for the poor showing of the team in Malaysia.
India defeated Pakistan twice in the tournament as the second seeded Pakistan managed only one win during the tournament. World champions Australia clinched the title while 13th ranked Malaysia secured second place.
“We will be sending the first lot of our academy players in the U16 Asia Cup. We believe that they will perform well in the tournament and subsequently will highlight our success with our academies project,” Asif Bajwa told reporters on Tuesday.
He also said the speculations that the selection committee will be revived were wrong as the team management will be having the powers to select the team. The selection committee was dismantled before the Azlan Shah Cup with the committee’s powers falling in team management’s lap.
The present setup of the PHF had introduced the expensive project of establishing academies throughout the country. A total of 18 academies were established around four years back. Initially these steps were praised by many hockey analysts and former players.
However, the implementation of the plans was highly criticized and it was rightfully done as the academies failed to produce any worthwhile player in spite of functioning for several years.
In Azlan Shah Cup, the team management went with new players in the squad, but eventually the below par results disappointed the management, former players and the fans.
The results also disgusted the national coach Hanif Khan, who confessed that Pakistan doesn’t have good back up players and lack in bench strength. The confession from a high up official, who has been with the federation for some time as chief selector and now as a coach proved that the setup has failed to produce new players.
On the same tournament, India also featured with a new look side with little success, but at least the 11th ranked side managed two wins against 5th placed Pakistan to secure fifth place.
Moreover, the U16 Asia Cup to be held in Singapore is not even a conventional 11aside tournament, but an innovative five aside tournament, where only five players will be sent into the field. The ground would also be reduced.