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Sports

July 12, 2018

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Asian Games: Sarwar hopes Pakistan will reach kabaddi final

KARACHI: Since kabaddi’s inclusion in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games, Pakistan have claimed two silver and five bronze medals. Our kabaddi players have never returned empty-handed from the Asiad.

India have remained invincible in the sport with all seven gold medals in the Asian Games, but Iran have emerged as a strong force. They ended as the runners-up in the last two Asian Games, in China in 2010 and Incheon in 2014. South Korea have also improved a lot and can beat any major side. Pakistan recently went down to Iran in the semi-finals of a six-nation event in Dubai. Pakistan lost both their group games to India.

Will Pakistan be able to maintain their medal-winning record or do even better in the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2?

A senior official of Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) is upbeat about Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the final. “We are working hard and InshaAllah will qualify for the final,” PKF secretary Mohammad Sarwar told ‘The News’ on Wednesday. “We fielded a very young team in the six-nation tournament in Dubai in order to test the youngsters who had been picked from the Super Kabaddi League. Now we know the weak areas and are working to get better and hope to prepare a fighting lot for the Asian Games,” said Sarwar, also secretary of Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF).

He admitted that the kabaddi event would be more competitive but was quick to add that Pakistan had beaten Iran in the Asian Championship a few months ago at their own backyard.

“We beat Iran in Iran in the Asian Championship,” Sarwar said.With the Asiad men’s kabaddi draws yet to be unveiled, Pakistan team’s training camp is in full swing at the Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad. It started on July 4.

As many as 20 players are there in the camp being supervised by coaches Col Nabeel and Rahat Maqsood, both from Army.

Sarwar said that four more players are to join the camp. It is not yet clear whether Pakistan captain Nasir Ali will be able to represent Pakistan in the Asian Games. He is nursing an injury.

“Nasir is nursing his calf injury which he received in the Dubai Cup semi-final against Iran. The doctors say that it will take Nasir eight to ten more days to recover. If he becomes fit he will be part of the team. If not, we will seek his alternative,” Sarwar said.

Nasir was Pakistan’s skipper during the previous two Asian Games. In order to provide good practice to the team, the PKF wants Sri Lanka to come to Pakistan for a few matches.

“We are in contact with Sri Lanka and hopefully they will come to Pakistan. We wanted Iran also to come to Pakistan but they are not ready as there is very little time left before the Asian Games,” Sarwar said.

In the past Pakistan team would play at a high altitude at Abbottabad ahead of such major events but Sarwar said this time it was not possible to shift the camp there as there was too little time left. “It was much better to train at high altitude but this time it is not possible due to shortage of time. We have conducted some good training sessions and hopefully things will go in the right direction,” Sarwar said.

Asian Games kabaddi event will begin from August 18. Pakistan’s 12-member squad will be accompanied by an official.

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