Pakistan will be eager to show they aren't spent in hockey

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Current World Ranking # 8 (1315 points)

Clubbed with Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Argentina and South Africa in Pool A at the London Games.

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Best Result:
Won gold in 1960 Rome Olympics, 1968 Mexico City Olympics and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Last Olympics: Finished eighth

A traditional hockey powerhouse, Pakistan have also won three silver and two bronze medals in the Olympics besides six World Cup medals (including four gold). However, Pakistan have failed to produce their earlier magic in recent years. Their last finish among the top-three in the WC had come in the 1994 edition. They finished last in the 2010 WC and sixth at the Commonwealth Games hockey.

The road to London:
Pakistan won an automatic berth in the London Games hockey by virtue of their winning gold at the 2010 Gungzhou Asian Games. However, they could not utilise all this time for the Olympics owing to team-selection problems. They lost to Olympic teams like India, Korea, New Zealand and Great Britain in this year's Azlan Shah hockey tournament. Their only win had come against Argentina. The poor result led to reshuffle in the players' line-up.

Players to watch out for:
Penalty-corner specialist Sohail Abbas, the highest scorer in the history of the game, who is also the skipper of the side. However, at 36, Abbas might be well past his prime. Other veterans Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt and Mohammad Waseem are other key members of the side.

1. The Pakistani hockey team, just like the cricketing side, is full of raw talents.
2. A good balance of experience and youth.

1. Most of the youngsters are yet to prove themselves on the international stage.
2. Too-much off-the-field distractions can upset the team's focus.

Chances of progress at the London Games: 6/10
Pakistan have traditionally done well at the Olympics but might struggle against top teams for international hockey has grown in competition and Pakistan's own problems surrounding selection and training might hamper its progress. Pakistan will play their first match against Spain on Jul 30.

Sohail Abbas (c), Imran Shah & Imran Butt (gk), Muhammad Irfan, Syed Kashif Shah, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Muhammad Tousiq and Waseem Ahmed, Muhammad Waqas, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Muhammad Rizwan Senior and Muhammad Umar Bhutta.

Khwaja Junaid, a former international player, was part of the bronze-winning squad at the 1992 Barcelona Games. He was previously coaching the junior team and later became the manager of the senior team. In March, he took over as the coach of the senior team. The management also comprises another veteran Akhtar Rasool.

OneIndia News

Story first published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 16:07 [IST]
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