Karachi, November 16: Pakistan have announced the squad for the Hockey World Cup 2018, which will be held in Bhubaneswar, India from November 28.
Pakistani selectors have made just one change to the squad that recently played in the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat and shared the title with India. The only change to the squad is experienced Rashid Mehmood will replace Rizwan Junior.
"Rashid was playing overseas in professional league when the Asian Champions Trophy was held but now he is available and he is one of our most experienced and best midfieders," said chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui.
The former Olympian is also confident that with a little bit of luck Pakistan is fully capable of winning the World Cup in India. Islahuddin himself was part of the Pakistan team that won the 1971 and 78 World Cups but Pakistan's last World Cup title came way back in 1994 at Sydney.
Since then Pakistan have fared poorly in World Cups and in fact they failed to qualify for the 2014 edition and finished last in the 2010 World Cup held in New Delhi.
But Islahuddin is confident they will do better this time around as he feels the senior players and continuity in the squad will be a advantage for them.
"The Asian Champions Trophy performance has also come as a boost and my effort is to see these players go to India after having all their dues cleared by the Pakistan Hockey Federation so that there is no burden on their minds," he said.
The Pakistan squad has been selected after two-day trials in Lahore.
The 14th edition of the World Cup - featuring teams from 16 nations divided into four pools - is being staged in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar from Nov 28 to Dec 16.
The chief selector acknowledged that Pakistan's pool in the presence of Germany and the Netherlands is very tough, but insisted, "Our players on a given day have the ability to stun any side of the world."
Mohammad Rizwan Senior and Ammad Shakeel Butt have been retained as captain and vice-captain, respectively. The Pakistan squad is likely to leave for India on Nov 22 or 23 after getting visa, the process for which is currently ongoing.
Squad: Imran Butt, Mazhar Abbas (goalkeepers); Mohammad Irfan Senior, Aleem Bilal, Mubashar Ali, Mohammad Tauseeq Arshad, Tasawwar Abbas, Rashid Mahmood, Ajaz Ahmed, Ammad Shakeel Butt (vice-captain), Mohammad Irfan Junior, Mohammad Rizwan Senior (captain), Ali Shan, Faisal Qadir, Abubakr Mahmood, Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Atiq Arshad, Mohammad Zubair
Officials: Hasan Sardar (manager); Tauqeer Dar (head coach); Rehan Butt, Danish Kaleem (coaches); Nadeem Lodhi (video analyst); Waqas Mehmood (physiotherapist).