Karachi: Former Pakistan hockey Olympian Ahmed Alam on Thursday said that the experienced duo of Salman Akbar and Waseem Ahmed must perform to help greenshirts beat Koreans and qualify for the final Asia Cup.
“Salman Akbar has to play a big role tomorrow Friday for the team. He holds a key position of goalkeeping and he has the calibre to perform in a crucial match. He needs to hold his nerves and save shots on goal especially from short corners,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said that if a goalkeeper manages to stop goals from penalty corners then the morale of the opponent drains and then they try not to take more short corners and go for field goals, which have lesser chances to be scored.
“He performed well against Malaysians but now against Koreans, Salman has to play impressively to justify management’s faith in him,” he added. Salman has been called back after two years for national duty.
Ahmed also praised experienced Waseem Ahmed and said that his comeback in the team has also helped the greenshirts improve its performance in Asia Cup after Hockey World League debacle.
“Waseem is a very good player and there is no one right now to replace him so there is no reason to criticize his inclusion in the team on the basis of his age,” Ahmed said. 36yearold Waseem is Pakistan’s most capped player and his inclusion in the team has been criticized on the basis of his age. He missed Hockey World League due to injury he sustained in a road accident.
Ahmed also praised coach Tahir Zaman for devising an impressive plan during the match against Malaysia and said that if he devise another such plan against Korea, then Pakistan will have bright chances of recording victory.
Ahmed said that Asia Cup is the last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the World Cup 2014 and he expects the greenshirts would put their best in the match tomorrow to beat the Koreans.
“I am very hopeful about our team’s victory against Korea as this event is the last chance for securing a ticket for the World Cup 2014,” the former goalkeeper said.
Ahmed, who has also coached the team, said that Pakistan must try to score first because it would be very difficult for the team to make recovery against Koreans.
“Our players should hold their nerves and not get panicked and try to score first to build pressure on the Koreans,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed further said that India would be favorite against Malaysians in the other semifinal encounter but Malaysia would also put its best and would derive home crowd and home ground support to win the match and therefore a tough battle is expected in the other semifinal match as well.