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Pakistan ignore Sohail Abbas

Source: PTI
July 12, 2007 15:59 IST
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Accusing the trio of Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Saqlain and Waseem Ahmed of "deserting the team", the Pakistan Hockey Federation said it would not consider them for selection despite the side struggling in their absence.

The federation is still unwilling to forgive the three stalwarts for preferring to play in professional leagues in Europe.

Chief selector Khawaja Zakauddin said although Pakistan are struggling to achieve good results at the moment, recalling the three seniors is not an option.

However Zakauddin, himself a former Pakistan captain, said any decision on recalling them could only be taken by the PHF president.

"The president can pardon them for their indiscipline and insensitive behavour. He has the authority to take a decision. Until he gives an all clear, we can't consider them despite our problems," he said.

Sources within the federation say a lobby has been pushing PHF chief Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali to pardon Abbas and company and give them another chance to play for the country.

But Jamali remains adamant and has still not forgiven them.

Sohail, the game's highest goal scorer, and one of the best penalty-corner specialists in history, and midfielders Waseem and Saqlain were shunned last year after they chose to play league hockey instead of representing Pakistan at the Doha Asian Games.

The three remain active on the domestic front and Sohail recently said he wants to make a comeback at the upcoming Champions Trophy in Lahore or next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

"Not having won these two major titles or the World Cup is something that bothers the mind. But one has to wait and see if I can wear the Pakistan colours again," Sohail said.

Pakistan last week won a four-nation tournament in Moscow against lowly ranked Scotland, Ireland and Russia after inducting some new players in the squad.

Captain Rehan Butt said the new players had adapted well and the tournament was a good experience for them.

"We are starting to build up our preparations in such tournaments for the Champions Trophy and Olympics," Butt said.

But many former players and critics believe that Pakistan stand a good chance of doing well in major tournaments if they recall Sohail Abbas in particular.

Pakistan has not won a major title since 1994 when it took the Champions Trophy and World Cup under captain Shahbaz Ahmed.

Pakistan's next assignment is an international pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing.

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