The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has named an 18-man squad for the upcoming 22nd Azlan Shah Cup Hockey tournament beginning March 9 in the Malaysian city of Ipoh.

Manager of the Pakistan team Akhtar Rasool announced the team here Saturday at a news conference, Xinhua reports.

Muhammad Imran was retained as the skipper of the team with seven substitute players for the annual tournament.

Two senior players Shakeel Abbasi and Waseem Ahmad were not included in the side.

Responding to the question about the absence of the senior players in the side, team coach Hanif Khan said: “We have planned to give chance to the young players and we hope new talent will emerge in the event.”

Besides Pakistan, five other teams -- Australia, India, New Zealand, Malayasia and South Korea -- will feature in the thrilling competition.

Every team will play one match against each other in the nine-day tournament with its final to be played March 17.

Pakistan will play their first match against New Zealand March 9 before taking on arch-rivals India March 12.

The Australians have won the title on most occasions -- six times -- while India wrote their name as winners five times. Pakistan have won it thrice while Germany and South Korea have bagged the title twice.

Last year, Pakistan were shocked during the Azlan Shah Cup where they could win only one match against Argentina followed by five successive defeats.

The team and its management came under severe criticism in Pakistan after the team came in last in the mega-event.

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