dailypeghamKARACHI: Olympian Muhammad Akhlaq, who has been appointed as Sri Lanka national hockey team’s coach on a special assignment by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF), revealed that his first goal would be to guide the team to the 2017 Asia Cup.

“The AHF has appointed me on a special assignment to coach Sri Lanka for a year,” Akhlaq told The Express Tribune. “I have arrived here in Colombo with a mission; to guide the team to the 2017 Asian Cup.”

The former Pakistan fullback, who played with the national side for three years, was part of the team which won bronze at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and was also the manager of the Pakistan A team which won gold at the 2010 South Asian Games in Bangladesh.

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Talking about how he entered the field of coaching, Akhlaq revealed, “I have always been extremely passionate about coaching. I started coaching after I was dropped from the national team in 1993. After that, I continued playing with my departmental team, but also started coaching in my hometown Sheikhupura.”

The AHF Cup, scheduled to commence from September 1, will feature teams such as hosts Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Myanmar, Oman, China, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

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The top four teams from the tournament will participate in next year’s Asia Cup and Akhlaq is confident his Sri Lankan side would be one of them. “My goal is to prepare the team so that they are able to face these teams confidently. For that, we have established a camp at Colombo. I am confident they will be able to finish in top four.”