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India, Pakistan hockey teams still best in terms of skill: Coach Saqlain Muhammad

Hockey Asian Champions Trophy: Young players can bring fresh energy into Pakistan's style of play, says head coach Saqlain Muhammad.

India, Pakistan hockey teams still best in terms of skill: Coach Saqlain Muhammad

Pakistan's hockey team in Chennai (Geo News)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 2 Aug 2023 3:37 PM GMT

Chennai: A lot has changed since Pakistan hockey team's head coach Saqlain Muhammad last came to India, as a player in the Pakistan team for the Asia Cup back in 2007. Returning for the Hockey Asian Champions Trophy 16 years later, his opinion on the skill of hockey players from the Indian subcontinent has not changed.

"I think the Asian players are best in terms of skill. Nobody comes close to us. When it comes to physical stuff, the Europeans are better than us. Wahan toh baccha bhi 18 pound ka paida hota hai (Even babies weigh 18 pounds there)," he told The Bridge.

Currently languishing at 16th spot in the world rankings, Pakistan's men's team have lost the sheen that accompanied visiting teams till the 2000s. Muhammad, who now shouts instructions from the sidelines instead of being on the field, still swears by the beauty of the Indian and Pakistani teams.

"The beauty of the subcontinent is that we play attacking hockey and it is something nobody can take away," he said.

Pakistan have brought a young team into the Hockey Asian Champions Trophy and they will hope they can stand the test when they begin their campaign against Malaysia on Thursday.

Asked about the 12 players in the squad who were inducted in from the junior Asia Cup squad, Muhammad said, "The power of youth will help prepare us for the Asian Games and display a brilliant brand of hockey."

"This is a full dressed rehearsal for us for the upcoming Asian Games. We have similar opponents here and it gives us an opportunity to understand them," he added.

Pakistan Squad for Hockey Asian Champions Trophy: Mohammad Umar Bhutta (captain), Rana Abdul Waheed Ashraf (vice-captain), Akmal Hussain, Abdullah Ishtiaq Khan, Mohammad Abdullah, Mohammad Sufyan Khan, Ehtisham Aslam, Osama Bashir, Aqeel Ahmed, Arshad Liaquat, Mohammad Imad, Abdul Hanan Shahid, Zakaria Hayat, Roman, Mohammad Murtaza Yaqub, Mohammad Shahzaib Khan, Afraz, Abdul Rahman

Schedule of Pakistan’s matches in Hockey Asian Champions Trophy

Aug. 3: Pakistan vs Malaysia

Aug. 4: Pakistan vs Korea

Aug. 6: Pakistan vs Japan

Aug. 7: Pakistan vs China

Aug. 9: Pakistan vs India

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