KUALA LUMPUR: Pakistan have named a strong team for the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup invitational Under-21 tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru from Nov 5-12.
Skippered by Mazher Abbas, others in the team include Kashif Javed, who was in the senior team at the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China, recently, Tassawar Abbas, Bilal Qadir and Khalid Bhatti.
Tassawar, Bilal, Khalid and Mazher are said to be on the verge of breaking into the senior squad.
Chief coach and manager Rana Mujahid said the Sultan of Johor Cup would allow them to gauge the players’ progress.
“We have a strong team with several players ready to break into the senior ranks. We are happy to be the future of Pakistan hockey,” he said.
Rana, a former Olympian, sees the rise of the juniors as a sign that Pakistan are on track to becoming a world force again.
“Still, the juniors need more experience.
“There are areas of weaknesses that need to be rectified,” he said.
Pakistan are using the Sultan of Johor Cup to finalise their team for the Junior World Cup qualifying rounds next May.
Besides Malaysia and Pakistan, the six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup also features India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.