The Pakistan hockey team has struggled at the international level over the past several years, but head coach Farhat Khan is determined to trigger a turnaround by winning the Asia Cup to be held here next month.
Pakistan have been placed in Pool A alongside arch-rivals India, Japan and hosts Bangladesh at the October 11-22 event.
“We have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in India, but our main focus will be on performing well in the Hero Asia Cup 2017. There is tough competition among the participating Asian teams with India being the strongest on paper with a world ranking of six. But there are always teams who can spring a surprise as Malaysia showed by finishing fourthth at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London,” Khan said.
“Therefore, it is important for us to keep focus on our game as we want to win the tournament,” he added.
Pakistan will play their opening match of Asia Cup 2017 against the hosts here on October 11. They will then take on Japan on October 13 and India on October 15.
Pointing out that Pakistan were knocked out by South Korea at the 2013 Asia Cup despite playing well in their group matches, Khan asserted that his wards need to learn how to cope with pressure during the knockout stages.
“The performance in the last Asia Cup was not bad as we won all our three pool matches quite convincingly. However we lost to South Korea by a goal in the semi-finals and eventually finished third by defeating hosts Malaysia. But we did not manage to achieve our target as we wanted to win the tournament,” Khan said.
“We will need to make improvements in all areas of our game if we want to achieve our goal this time. We have faced a tough time in recent years as we failed to qualify for the last World Cup, and then 2016 Olympic Games, therefore we want to deliver our best starting from Hero Asia Cup 2017,” he added.