LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has appointed experienced defender Muhammad Imran as the captain for next month’s Champions Trophy that will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Imran has replaced the high-profile Sohail Abbas who was captain of the team during the London Olympics but has been dropped after Pakistan finished seventh in the mega event. Imran, who lead Pakistan at the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy last year, will lead a squad for two major events in Australia that more of less have the same set of players who took part in the Olympics. Pakistan will first take part in a nine-a-side event in Perth in late November and then play in the Champions Trophy to be held from December 1-9, at the State Netball Hockey Centre.
Interestingly, this is for the first time that chief coach and manager Akhtar Rasool and coach Hanif Khan have selected the squad after the PHF ended its policy of having a national selection committee after the London Olympics. Rasool and Hanif have retained the experienced midfielder, Waseem Ahmad, who had retired soon after the London Olympics and forward Shakeel Abbasi in the squad. Imran Shah has been retained to stand in goal despite a below par performance at the Olympics. Pakistan have been grouped with hosts Australia, Belgium and London Olympics silver medalists Netherlands in Pool B while Pool A consists of Olympic gold medalists Germany, England, New Zealand and India.
Goalkeepers: Imran Shah, Imran Butt. Full-backs: Muhammad Imran (captain), Muhammad Ateeq, Syed Kashif Shah. Halves: Waseem Ahmad, Muhammad Tousiq, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Muhammad Rizwan Junior. Forwards: Muhammad Waqas (vice captain), Shafqat Rasool, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Abdul Haseem Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Muhammad Kashif Ali, Muhammad Rizwan Senior, Ali Shan.
Team officials: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (manager-cum-head coach), Abdul Hanif Khan (coach), Ajmal Khan Lodhi and Ahmed Alam (assistant coaches), Faiz-ur-Rahman (physiotherapist) and Nadeem Khan Lodhi (video-analyst)