KUALA LUMPUR: Three-time champions Pakistan are serious about winning the Junior Asia Cup.
Pakistan, winners in 1988, 1992 and 1996, have decided to set up camp in Malaysia as they bid to regain the Under-21 crown.
They will be playing in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Baru from Oct 11-18. And then they will stay back in Malaysia for their final phase of training for the Junior Asia Cup which will be held in Kuantan from Nov 14-22.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed said they would like to see the team regain the Junior Asia Cup title they last won in 1996.
“We believe the juniors are our future. We will give them the support as we bid to regain our status as the top team in Asia,” said Shahbaz.
The top four teams in Kuantan will qualify for the Junior World Cup Finals in India next year.
Pakistan hockey is in the doldrums. The three-time Olympic and four-time World Cup champions failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. They also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Said Shahbaz: “Our goal is to develop the junior team and ensure that quality players make the grade to the senior team. The Junior Asia Cup is an important tournament step-up.
“It is better for the team to stay in Malaysia after the Sultan of Johor Cup. We will hold our final phase of training here. It will be more beneficial.”
Besides training, the Pakistanis are also expected to play a few friendlies against the Malaysian juniors and other Malaysia Hockey League clubs.
At the Sultan of Johor Cup, Pakistan will open their campaign against arch-rivals India on Oct 11.
The other teams in the fray are Malaysia, Australia, Britain and Argentina.