Hockey: I was always confident of making a comeback, says Imran
11 June, 2012
KARACHI: His recall to the side might have come as a surprise to many but Mohammad Imran was not stunned as the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) included him in the squad for the Europe tour.
The seasoned defender faced a shock snub as he was overlooked for the preliminary squad for this year's London Olympics after the home series against China.
But, like his omission, the sudden u-turn to recall Imran has also surprised followers.
However, given Pakistan's dismal performance at the Azlan Shah Cup, Imran felt the team needed experienced players ahead of the Olympics.
“I always knew they'll call me back,” Imran told Our Sources. “I always felt the team needs experience for the Olympics. We cannot rely only on young talent considering the tough opposition in the major event. This is why I continued training since the day I was overlooked. I am ready and fit to play international hockey as I was during my captaincy.”
The selection committee had cited the player's poor show in the Champions Trophy in December last year as the reason behind the snub but Imran questioned the decision and termed it unjustified then.
“What happened has become a thing of the past and I have forgotten it. I am very happy to be back. The PHF's decision of recalling seniors must be hailed because it is in the team's interest. All I am looking forward to is to serve my country.”
'Stress on Abbas will be reduced'
Meanwhile, the defender added that the pressure on captain Sohail Abbas will be less now that he is included in the team. Pakistan missed as many as 19 penalty-corner chances, while converting just two as the world's leading goal-scorer Abbas was seen struggling in the Azlan Shah Cup.
“I am confident this conversion rate will improve. Secondly, my return will reduce pressure on the captain like it has in the past.”
The seasoned campaigner hoped the experience of playing on blue turf will not be an issue.
“The Europe tour will give us good practice ahead of the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, Imran, who will miss the tour opener against Belgium due to a delay in visa, has decided to skip a Bangladesh league event for which he was scheduled to leave on June 15. “The contract states that I can skip in case of a recall to the national team.”
Pakistan play Belgium, Holland and Germany during the Europe tour from June 11 to 15.