As the Pakistan men’s hockey team get ready to face the Netherlands in the first of the double header Olympic Qualifier match today, Coach Khawaja Junaid says he aims to play the surprise card.
With three Olympic titles and four world cups, the prize kitty in Pakistan is filled a lot richer than that of the Dutch hockey men.
And yet, almost no one doubts that the Dutch team will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. After all, Pakistan’s last global grand prize dates from 1994. Since then, the country has gone downhill.
Coach Khawaja Junaid has selected eight debutants. And that means no visual material is available to analyze.
Not even after last week’s two international matches against Germany. Every request to visit the practice matches against Germany was answered with a clear ‘no’.
“Of course we did that to maintain the mystery surrounding our team,” says Coach Khawa Junaid. “This is also our last chance at Olympic qualification, so we do everything to win.”
Star player Rizwan Muhammad, who plays for Orange-Red, was said to have dropped out injured, but fully trained on Thursday-afternoon.
Speaking about Pakistan’s chances Junaid said: “We have hardly trained during the past ten months, while the Netherlands are constantly playing. We do have a plan in action, and can surely spring up a surprise If we follow our plan and work hard.”
The Netherlands too have fully prepared itself in the best possible way.
“Pakistan is a fantastic hockey country,” said Pirmin Blaak, the hockey team’s first goalkeeper. “They grow up there with a hockey stick in hand. Despite everything, we should not underestimate Pakistan.”
The Pakistan vs Netherland’s action will take place on 26th and 27th October 2019 at the Waganer Hockey Stadium in Amstelveen.