Continuing our series of video interviews with the teams that will participate in the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, Pakistan (FIH World Ranking: 17) Head Coach Khawaja Junaid looks ahead to his team’s all-important two-match clash with the Netherlands (WR:3), with a place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the line. The crucial matches will take place at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, Netherlands on 26/27 October 2019, with timings to be confirmed in the coming weeks. A transcript of the interview can be found below.
The FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will be taking place very soon. How is your team preparing for these hugely important matches?
Khawaja Junaid: Our preparation for these couple of matches for the [FIH] Olympic Qualifiers is quite good. We are training at the Lahore National Hockey Stadium and all the players are working hard and trying their level best to overcome any grey areas. I am hoping, as their head coach, that they will perform well during these matches.
What can we expect to see from your team in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers?
Khawaja Junaid: There is no doubt if you see the difference between the two teams there is a big gap. The Netherlands right now are ranked number three in the World Rankings and Pakistan is now ranked number 17. Holland is playing quality hockey. For the last five years they [the Netherlands] have both a coaching group and a team group and so they are one of the best teams in the world. But keeping in view all these things, I believe [we can win], even then. I have chosen a couple of youngsters in this group. They will fight well and they will give good opposition to the Netherlands team. You know, this team has its qualities and these [qualities] are better than [outweigh] their weaknesses so we will perform well again.
What are your thoughts about your opponent in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers and how is your squad feeling about these matches?
Khawaja Junaid: I have gone through the recent past matches that I have seen. I saw one match between Pakistan and Holland in the Champions Trophy and again at the World Cup in December 2018. There is no doubt that the Netherlands have shown supremacy in all these games. They outclassed the Pakistan team in all zones, attacking and defensively. But our players are new. Holland are displaying good hockey tactics and skills. Keeping in view all these strengths from the Netherlands, we are also preparing our strategy, to know how to control their strengths.
Finally, what would qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 mean to you and your team?
Khawaja Junaid: Hockey is our national game and it is a passion for the nation. Every person would love for us to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. To me, it is the last option for us to be part of the Olympics. There is no doubt that the sport leads to friendship between the nations. What are the circumstances? The Netherlands is a much better side but even then we are ready to fight well and we will try to give a little surprise to the Dutchmen. I hope for the best for both teams.
Each qualifier consists of two back-to-back matches which will be played in the same venue. The winners of these FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers will qualify for the 2020 Olympic hockey tournaments which will be staged in Japan’s capital city next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.
For complete information about the men’s and women’s draw for the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, .
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