Pakistan Men’s Hockey Coach, Sheikh Shahnaz, expressed his excitement as he arrived in Chennai with his team to participate in the Asian Hockey Champions Trophy 2023. Both India’s neighboring nations, Pakistan and China, landed in Chennai, creating a vibrant atmosphere ahead of the tournament. While China’s Men’s Hockey Team directly flew to the host city, Pakistan’s team entered India through the Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar before taking a flight to Chennai via Bengaluru.
Speaking about the preparations and playing in India, Coach Sheikh Shahnaz stated, “We are always excited to play in India, and it definitely adds to the pressure. But good quality players know how to perform and deliver under pressure, hence, we are hopeful of a good show on and off the field.”
The Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 is scheduled from August 3rd to August 12th, featuring six teams: India, Pakistan, Korea, China, Malaysia, and Japan. Pakistan, a three-time Asian Champions Trophy winner, aims to clinch the title for the record fourth time, sharing the honor with India.
Pakistan will kickstart their campaign against Malaysia on August 3rd. Coach Sheikh Shahnaz emphasized the importance of playing more matches against India, which would help elevate both teams’ games and serve as a valuable preparation for the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games.
Regarding including young players with experienced campaigners in the team, Shahnaz believes that the blend of youth and experience is more effective in modern hockey, with young players contributing energy, commitment, flair, and skills to adapt to the evolving hockey environment.
Pakistan’s Captain Umar Bhutta expressed confidence in the young players, many of whom recently participated in the Junior Asia Cup, stating that they are accustomed to pressure and ready to perform in crucial situations. Bhutta recalled his wonderful memories of playing in India during the 2018 World Cup and expressed his determination to give their best as a team and gain valuable experience in the upcoming tournament, essential for their preparations for the Asian Games.
Meanwhile, China eyes their first Asian Champions Trophy title and will face the hosts India in their opening game on August 3rd. China’s Coach Haiqin Weng shared their excitement to play in India and praised the warm hospitality of the people. He also noted that the weather and playing conditions in Chennai are similar to those in China, providing them an advantage on the turf.