South Korea: Reigning Champion Pakistan will launch their campaign in the XVII Asian Games Hockey competition when they face minnows Sri Lanka in their opening group ‘A’ match here at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
This will be a rare appearance between 2010 Asian Games Champion Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However it will be big test of Sri Lanka players as they are facing a giant team after long period, reports Ehsan Qureshi.
We know Sri Lankans are not very powerful team. But we will not take them lightly,? Chief Coach Shahnaz Shaikh said on Friday.
He said they are looking forward to start in a confident fashion whoever is our opponent.
We cannot however afford any complacency, former Olympian Shahnaz remarked.
Muhammad Imran’s Pakistan was unable to have real match practice against the big teams ahead of continental sporting extravaganza because they could not play their practice matches against Bangladesh, Japan, and Korea due to unknown reasons.
Yes I believed that Pakistan team needed a couple of practice matches against participating team. But those could not be arranged, he admitted.
Pakistan will be facing stiff challenge from the host South Korea, arch-rival India, Malaysia in their bid to retain their gold which they won at Guangzhou (China) four years ago.
Pakistan will be playing their showpiece encounter India on September 25 which is expected to decide the fate of the group A standing.
Pakistan is drawn in pool ‘A’ with India, China, Sri Lanka, Oman while pool ?B? consist of Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
If seeding of the tournament remained intact from pool ‘A’ Pakistan and India and group ‘B’
Korea and Malaysia are certain to make the semifinal stage of the tournament.
After Sri Lanka, Pakistan will be up against super-fit Chinese on Sunday and after two day rest they will play India and their last group tie will be against another minnows Oman on September 27.
In the other matches on the opening day, Japan play Bangladesh, Malaysia take on Singapore and China will be up against Oman.