As Pakistan hockey team reaches Indonesia for the Asian Games, the head coach Roelant Oltmans says players now have their roles and positions clear.
Pakistan’s highest tally in a single tournament is 42 goals in 1990 – with five goals against. Pakistan’s biggest victory is 17-0 against Bangladesh in 1978 which is also the Asian Games record.
They kicked-off their Asian Games hockey campaign on a winning note with a 2-0 win over Japan in a pre-tournament friendly at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex, Jakarta.
Roelant Oltmans, while talking about the team’s preparation, told media that the when he joined, the players did not have clearly defined roles to play in the team.
“It was really surprising for me that the team, which won silver at the Asian Games and Champions Trophy were not clear about their playing positions. They knew which position to play on, but were not aware about the role they had to play in that position,” he explained.
“I worked with them, starting from the basics and then gave them well-defined roles. The senior players picked up instantly, while the young lot took some time to understand the concept. However, they are all clear now about where they have to be and when,” he added.
He further commented on the fitness of the players, saying it was good but up to the standards of international hockey.
“We have worked on their fitness too and now they are in a much better shape, we are hoping to see a better show from them,” he said.
Talking about weak areas of the team, Oltmans said team were in complete sync at the moment. “They were weak in defence which is why the block rate was low, whereas finishing was not up to the mark, however, they’ve improved in both areas which will be visible during the matches,” he said.
“Hockey is all about coordination, as soon as you misplace a pass, the next second ball is in other team’s possession. But now they know how to carry the ball forward smoothly and finish their move,” he added.
Oltmans also kept his team’s goal realistic saying they would be hoping to finish at the least on the second position. “We will be trying to finish at the best position we can. Pakistan are the silver medallists in Asian Games and we are aiming for gold but we have to be realistic. Even if they finish on the second position, that would be good enough performance from them,” he said.
“But obviously every team is trying to finish on top and so are we, so let’s hope or the best and see what happens at the Games.”
Pakistan will begin their Asian Games journey with the first match against Thailand on August 20, followed by the game against Oman on August 22, Kazakhstan on August 24, Malaysia August 26, and Bangladesh on August 28 in their pool B.
Meanwhile, pool A comprises of India, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the semi-finals to be played on August 30 before the winners compete in the final on September 1.