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August 19, 2019

Green-shirts to play international matches before Olympic qualifiers

Sports

August 19, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has contacted Japan’s and Malaysia’s hockey federations to play some matches before the 2020 Olympics qualifying rounds, informed sources told ‘The News’ on Sunday.

The Olympic qualifying rounds are likely to be held in October and November. Pakistan team has not played international matches for a long time. Besides, some senior players have retired while others were excluded after the debacle in the World Cup 2018.

The sources said that these matches are necessary to convert the new team into a competitive unit as many boys will be playing together for the first time. The pressure of international hockey match is totally different, thus, it will be better for the Green-shirts that they play some international matches before participation in the qualifying rounds where they are to face some competent European teams, the sources said.

They said that if Japan and Malaysia did not agree to play, PHF would send the Green-shirts to the venue 10 days before the Olympics qualifying rounds to play some matches. The PHF is working on both options, the sources said.

It is believed that the Olympics qualifying rounds would be held in a European country. The team’s training camp would be started from the last week of this month as the national selection committee has handed over the names of 35 probable players for the training camp. Olympian Khwaja Junaid is the manager-cum-head coach of Pakistan team.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that PHF has inducted Olympian Kaleemullah and Olympian Nasir Ali. A high PHF official said that both Olympians have been included because the workload of the selection would increase in near future as various junior assignments are nearing including Junior Asia Cup 2020.

The PHF is going to organise national junior championship in the next couple of months from where new players would be selected. Those who have previously played in the junior team and are still below the stipulated age would be part of the junior team, he confirmed.

He further said that PHF would also organise under-16 school boys championship this year, and the national selection members would be tasked to tap fresh talent. The sources said that domestic hockey which had been interrupted had been resumed with the national championship and now activities of domestic hockey events would be regular.

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