Dinamo Kazan’s Hassan Anwar says “things are going to be different” this time around as he looks forward to his second Euro Hockey League weekend at the KO16 in Barcelona from October 4-6.
The well-travelled Pakistani player admits results were disappointing last Easter in Eindhoven when they could not pressurise the star-studded Mannheimer HC and HC Oranje-Rood sides.
Nonetheless, he described the experience as “a blast” and “an amazing atmosphere” which he hopes will be the same in Spain. At the Pau Negre Stadium, Kazan – the only side to play in every season of the EHL – face Saint Germain whom they will hope to beat to land Russia’s first-ever win in an EHL knock-out match.
They will go into the tie just a couple of days after the completion of the Russian playoffs which they qualified for in second place from the regular season, finishing that phase just below Dinamo Elektrostal.
“The Russian hockey league is growing every year and the league is getting really tough with that,” he told the EHL website.
“So far, we are doing great with the season, we directly qualifying for the playoffs. We have a couple of weeks to work on our structural errors but I think we are pretty much prepared for it.”
Anwar is one of three players from Pakistan in the current Kazan squad along with Ali Shan and Abu Mahmood. It continues their succession of players to make that move with Imran Warsi one of the early stars of the EHL.
Anwar played for Gladbacher in Germany in 2017 before linking up with his national team and then played in Australia where he linked up with Adnan Maqsood who suggested a potential Russian move.
“My friend Adnan had communication with the director and the coach of Dinamo Kazan and they were looking for a defender/midfielder so he asked me; I gave it a positive reply and, after further communication with the club, finally made it to Russia.
“The hockey experience has been amazing; I’m really enjoying my time and hockey in Russia. Of course, hockey is very different in every continent but I’m lucky I have had the opportunity to explore it!
“Kazan is a really cool place; like other European cities, the lifestyle is quite similar. I didn’t have any idea about what the city of Kazan was like but it’s an amazing city and I’m really impressed by Russia, it is absolutely stunning.”
As for their EHL campaign, the October schedule will give Kazan a much stronger lead-in time compared to usual. The Easter KO16 came toward the end of their season’s lengthy winter break with only indoor training sessions and tours as preparation.
This time, they will have a bank of competitive games under their belt which will serve them well for the challenge of Saint Ger.
“It’s gonna to be a bit of fun this year because we don’t really have winter before the EHL so we’ll have normal preparations. Right after finishing the playoffs, we will be in Barcelona so this year, the guys will be extremely focused for the both events – playoffs and EHL.”
The meeting will be the second time Dinamo Kazan have played Saint Germain, the previous encounter way back in March 2008 when the French side prevailed 1-0.