Muscat, March 5: As the Oman national hockey team prepares for the all-important Asian Games Qualifiers, beginning March 8th, coach Tahir Zaman is hard at work.
The veteran Pakistani World Cup winner is finetuning the on-field skills of the Omani players as they gear up for the crucial tournament to be held at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
“I think we are all set for the tournament. We are playing a practice game against Hong Kong this evening. The boys are in good condition and they are working hard on the grey areas that were identified during the tri-nation tournament featuring Pakistan and Japan,’’ he added.
Zaman also stressed that the team’s focus area will be on three aspects.
“We will work on our game around the defensive circles and attacking circles and also our positioning and full pressing tactics,’’ he added.
Asked on the how the players are responding to the training methods and tactics initiated by the support staff, Zaman replied with positive affirmation.
“The boys are shaping up well. They are doing good in the training and the Kazakhstan team has requested us for a practice match but that looks doubtful because they want it on the 7th, we have told them that 6th will be ok but 7th will be difficult because we have our first match on the 8th,’’ Zaman revealed.
Zaman also said among the grey areas that the team is working on the major focus would be to get the temperament right in crucial situations.
“In the tri-nation tournament recently, we played open and attacking hockey because we wanted to assess our overall game. And what worked in our favour was that, even while playing attacking hockey we were able to reduce the margin of defeats. The 4-4 drawn game against Pakistan where we came from behind to take the lead was a classic example of this aspect,’’ he said.
Talking about the defensive aspect of the game, Zaman said the defenders were effective in an individual capacity.
“They have been good in individual capacities but what we have to focus on is the co-ordination among the defenders and the positioning aspect,’’ he added.
Looking ahead to Oman’s first game of the Asian Games Qualifiers, Zaman said Chinese Taipei would be a tough opponent.
“We played them in the tournament in Hong Kong where we were leading 3-1 towards the end of the game and conceded three goals in the last 10 seconds to lose 4-3. We have been doing some video analysis of the Hong Kong team and hope to rectify the mistakes made earlier,’’ Zaman added.