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The national training camp for the Azlan Shah Cup concluded at the National Hockey Stadium here on Saturday with head coach Akhtar Rasool remaining cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances in the event.

 

The tournament is starting in Ipoh, Malaysia from March 9.

Akhtar said he was taking the tournament as part of the preparations for next year’s World Cup qualifying round.

“A good number of youngsters have been included [in the squad for Azlan Shah Cup] in order to give rest to the seniors,” Akhtar said and added that it was a good opportunity for the juniors to show their skills in an international competition like Azlan Shah Cup where strong outfits like Australia, India, South Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia will be competing for the top honours.

Pakistan have given rest to four seniors namely Shakeel Abbasi, Waseem Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood and Rizwan Senior to include four youngsters for the Azlan Shah assignment.

Without making any claim about his team’s victory chances in Ipoh, Akhtar pinning his hopes on the combination of promising youngsters and seniors said he would want his side to at least make the final.

“The matches against India, Australia and South Korea [in Ipoh] will be tough,” he said, but added that he was not taking any team easy.

The Pakistan team will leave for Malaysia on March 5.