Having missed last year’s World Cup and Rio Olympics, Pakistan are eager to make their presence felt in the upcoming Asia Cup hockey tournament with newly-appointed head coach Farhat Khan setting his sights firmly on their fourth title.
Being the second most successful team with three Asia Cup titles, Pakistan will go into the tournament as one of the favourites along side world no.6 India and South Korea, who have won the coveted tournament four times.
“We have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in India, but our main focus will be on performing well in the Hero Asia Cup,” said Khan, who has recalled some experienced players in the national camp.
“Our performance in last Asia Cup was not bad as we won all our three pool matches quite convincingly. However we lost to South Korea by a goal in the semi-final and eventually finished third by beating hosts Malaysia. But we failed to achieve our target.
“We will need to make improvement in all areas of our game if we want to achieve our goal this time. We have faced a tough time in recent years as we failed to qualify for the last World Cup, and then 2016 Olympic Games, therefore we want to deliver our best starting from Hero Asia Cup 2017,” he added.
Pakistan have been placed in Pool A alongside arch-rivals India, Japan and hosts Bangladesh. And Farhat feels that as always India would be the team to beat in the tournament.
“There is tough competition among the participating Asian teams with India being the strongest on paper with a= world ranking of 6,” he said.
“But there are always teams who can spring a surprise as Malaysia showed by finishing 4th at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London. Therefore, it is important for us to keep focus on our game if we want to win the tournament,” Khan added.