Former Pakistan hockey captain and Olympian Salman Akbar has kick-started his goalkeeping coaching assignment for the Japanese Men’s Hockey team.

He is working with the goalkeepers ahead of Japan’s participation at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, starting March 23.

Salman, first took the assignment as Goalkeeping Coach for the Japanese Men’s Hockey team in Feb 2018.

He told The Dragflick that he is delighted to be back in Japan to prepare the goalkeepers for the upcoming tournament.

“I always love coming back to Japan. It’s a beautiful country. The people, the place are very welcoming and caring,” Salman said.

The Japanese Men’s Hockey team have performed brilliantly in the recent past and will be looking at continuing their form in the upcoming tournament.

Riding High on Confidence

At the Asian Games last year, Japan claimed the gold, by staging a spectacular regulation time comeback to draw 6-6 before edging out Malaysia 3-1 in a penalty shootout.

According to Salman, the Asian Gold has been a huge confidence booster for the Japanese players.

“I am meeting the boys after the Asian Games. The Gold at the Asian games has given the team massive confidence,” said Salman.

“The players have started believing that they can win medals for their country which was missing in the past,” he said.

Salman stated that a lot of work needs to be done keeping the Tokyo 2020 in mind but every goalkeeper in the team brings similar strength and dedication to the table.

“It’s great to see how the keepers are working hard to get a spot in the national team. I am very pleased to see their dedication and focus,” he stated..

Dedication to Perfection

The maestro with 230 international matches under his belt took the opportunity to praise the dedication and efforts of the Japanese players.

“The Japanese always look for perfection which is good but they also need to learn how to react in different situations during the game,” said the Goalkeeping Coach who represented Pakistan in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

“The Japanese players also work really hard. Our training schedule here runs very busy. The training covers physical, technical, tactical and mental training in a span of two weeks. I train the goalkeepers for around 2 hours every day,” he said.

The 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which begins on the 23rd of March, will see the Asian Gold Champions face India, Canada, Poland, South Korea and hosts Malaysia.

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