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Owais, Mazhar, Shabbir press claims for Pak berths Back To Main

The News

KARACHI: The 59th National Hockey Championship has allowed a number of players to showcase their skills, but Port Qasim’s Owais Khan, National Bank of Pakistan’s goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas and SSGC’s forward Shabbir Ahmed Khan have emerged as the most extraordinary talents.

Owais, who has attended national camps for junior teams, has certainly outshone everybody in the event with his spectacular dribbling, excellent vision and outstanding runs, but astonishingly at 26 years of age he is yet to be drafted in the senior ranks or even called in senior team camps.

Even more strikingly, Owais, who has all the ingredients of becoming a top player, is a nephew of chief selector Hanif Khan, a former Pakistan captain. When asked about his expectations for a call-up to the national team camp following his sparkling performances, Owais was rather gloomy. “If my performances are gauged fairly, I deserve to get a chance in the camp but that might not be the case,” Owais told ‘The News’. “It isn’t the first time that I’ve performed well in the national championship but I have never been given the chance to prove my mettle.”

When his coach Kashif Jawad was contacted about his continuous snub, he said that Owais has got all the abilities to be seriously considered for the upcoming national camp to be held with the 2012 Olympic Games in sight.

But he added that the player needs to change his mental approach if he is desirous of wearing the green shirt. “The talent is there but the fact is that he needs to train harder and should carry himself in a better way,” said Kashif.

Another player who is making his bones as top performer is Mazhar Abbas. The goalie, who has come up from the junior ranks, has produced a flurry of excellent saves and surely looks one for the future.

A former Olympian said on the condition of anonymity it would be injustice if Abbas was overlooked for the Olympics. “Salman Akbar is in the twilight of his career. His peak years are behind him after his disastrous performance in Champions Trophy so Mazhar should get a chance alongside Imran Shah in Olympics,” the Olympian said.

International player Shabbir Ahmed, who represents SSGC, has been in sensational form. He has been toying with the defenses with his sheer speed and agility, which has been praised by his SSGC coach Rana Zaheer. “Shabbir is the fittest of all strikers and he should be called in the camp. The trials among forwards should be held and I am sure he will come as the smartest and fittest of all,” Zaheer claimed.

Among other players who have drawn attention are PIA’s Adnan Anwar and his workaholic teammate Mohammad Irfan — who seems to have energy reserves in him — Army’s Mohammad Safeer, WAPDA’s Mohammad Khalid Bhatti and HBL’s Hafiz Sardar.