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Pakistan confident of regaining Asia Cup

September 18, 2003 16:53 IST

Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Nadeem has asserted that his team will regain the Asia Cup.

''We have won this cup thrice in a row and now I think we have got the team that is capable of regaining it,'' Nadeem said ahead of the sixth edition of the Cup, which starts in Kuala Lumpur on September 21.

The winner will qualify for the 2006 World Cup to be held in Germany.

The Pakistan captain agreed that India is a formidable side and said they [India] will their missing-penalty corner striker, Jugraj Singh.

''India has many talented players in their ranks. Jugraj is their penalty-corner specialist but as a field player he is not threatening,'' he added.

He admitted that it was the weak defence and a tentative forwardline, which was a problem for the Pakistan team in the Champions Trophy.

''We have improved on these grey areas. The forward line is also the first defence of a team and if it clicks well that means half the battle is won,'' Nadeem said.

He said prior to coming to Kuala Lumpur the Pakistan Hockey Federation had sought the advice of FIH's master coach Tayyab Ikram.

''He [Ikram] gave us tips and discussed the strategy for the Asia Cup after watching shortcomings of the team in the Champions Trophy,'' he said, adding that team coach Tahir Zaman has worked hard to prepare the team for this crucial event.

The skipper expressed confidence that his defenders will put up good show and there will be good coordination between the forwards, half-line and defence.

He said, ''It is time we start winning. A win here will end the drought [of winning the titles]," but added that competition is going to be very tough.

"India, South Korea and Malaysia are tough rivals and it will be foolish to take any of them lightly.''

He had a word of praise for his penality-corner expert, Sohail Abbas, saying: ''Sohail is a lethal weapon. He has improved his game while playing in the German league this year.''

Nadeem said defending champions South Korea are in the process of rebuilding their side, while Malaysia always performs better in front of a home crowd. He disclosed he will retire from international hockey after the Athens Olympics next year.

''I have played international hockey for a good number of years and I think I will not be able to play international hockey after a year,'' he added.

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