Tournament was billed as World Cup preparation but few players will be overage by then
KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) took some players to the Sultan of Johor Cup who will not be able to participate in the World Cup next year as they will be over the age limit by then.
According to International Hockey Federation (IHF) rules, players over the age of 19 are not eligible to participate in the junior hockey mega-event.
The PHF selection committee initially chose 56 players, out of which 22 were taken to Malaysia to participate in the six-nation competition. A source close to the selection policy said as many as five of those final 22 will be ineligible for next year’s World Cup.
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“The selection of players, in which head coach Tahir Zaman played an important role was not made according to any plan,” said the source. “Clear favouritism was shown as most of the players were from Gojra, and some of them are already 20, so they won’t be able to take part in the World Cup.”
The Sultan of Johor Junior Hockey Cup, in which Pakistan finished bottom, was seen as a perfect chance to prepare for the upcoming World Cup. “All the other teams had U18 players who are being prepared for the World Cup,” added the source.
Zaman, on the other hand, said that only two players will be ineligible for the World Cup —goalkeeper Ali Haider and forward Muhammad Adnan Anwar.
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“The reason we took those two is so that we can perform well at the upcoming Asia Cup, which also serves as the World Cup qualifier,” explained Zaman. “We would have found it difficult to qualify for that with fresh and junior players, so these two needed some experience under their belt before that.”
Pakistan will have to finish in the top four of the continental event in order to qualify for the World Cup, which is set to be held in New Delhi, India from December 1-11.
“Once the team qualifies for the World Cup, we will have a year to train the juniors and replace the over-age players,” added Zaman.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2015.
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