Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:Pakistan men’s hockey team goalkeeper Imran Butt has revealed that his side are looking forward to put their best and clinch a gold medal in the upcoming 18th edition of Asian Games in order to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Butt, however, admitted that the Asian teams are very competitive and that India are not going to take any of them lightly.
“We want to win gold to progress to the Tokyo Olympics. But not only us, anyone who would win would qualify directly to the Olympics. These Asian teams are very competitive. We cannot take these countries like China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia lightly. Everyone will attempt to give them a tough time,” he said.
Talking about the matches between India and Pakistan, which grabs eyeballs, Butt admitted that the matches between the two nations are always high stake regardless of the sport.
He continued, “There is pressure between the two teams (India and Pakistan). There is no plan or strategy. We play counter-to-counter Asian style. People of both countries enjoy this sort of a game.”
Heaping praise on former Indian men’s hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans, who was recently named as the coach of the Pakistan team, Butt described him as creative and a world number one coach.
“He played a huge role in bringing India to that (top) level. In 2003, he brought Pakistan to that level. We are following his strategies and will use his experience to achieve our targets,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan hockey team manager Hasan Sardar also expressed confidence that the contingent would put up a great show in the Asian Games.
He told ANI, “Recently, we have brought in some young players and recalled old players like Imran Butt. They had fitness problems earlier, but now it has been resolved. We have prepared well for the Games. We are confident of winning the gold medal.”
Speaking on the challenges that Pakistan are likely to face in the event, Sardar said, “India is a very good team and they have put up a good performance always. Korea, Japan and Malaysia also play well and can give tough times to other opponents. We have brought our players’ fitness levels to international standards. Hopefully, we would progress to the finals and win.”
Recalling the last match of the Champions Trophy between India and Pakistan, Sardar underscored that both teams played fair and showed true sportsmanship.
He continued, “No green card was shown to both the teams. Even if you play rough, you will be shown a green card (by the referee). Matches (between India and Pakistan) have been good not only recently, but also in the past.”
Both India and Pakistan men’s hockey teams are placed in Pool A and Pool B groups respectively. While India would lock horns with hosts Indonesia on August 20, Pakistan would begin their campaign when they face Thailand on the same date.
The Asian Games will begin on Saturday and continue till September 2 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang. (ANI)