Pak hockey team to play test series against Spain in May: Shahbaz

1372

ISLAMABAD, Mar 17 (APP): Pakistan has convinced Spain for a
four-match test series in May after the national team was not
invited by Malaysian Hockey Confederation for the upcoming Sultan
Azlan Shah Cup, to be staged from April 26 in Malaysia.
“It was really disappointing for us to be ignored like that.
But now we think it is a blessing in disguise for us as Spain has
agreed to play four test matches with our national outfit in the
month of May,” Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Shahbaz
Ahmad Senior told APP on Friday.
Pakistan withdrew from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2014, but
they have been regularly taking part in the event since its
inception in 1983. They have been winners of the event in 1999, 2000
and 2003, while they finished runners-up six times, last time in
2011.
Shahbaz said that the organizers did not elaborate the reasons
for not inviting Pakistan. “We’ve played a key role to promote
hockey in that country (Malaysia), but it is unfortunate they did
not invite us for the event this time. We’ve also not been told the
reasons of not being invited this time,” he said.
“Initially; we thought that if we’ll miss the event our
preparations for the World Cup qualifying round will be badly
affected. But now as Spain has agreed to play the series with us
ahead of that (qualifiers) we believe will be in a better position
to prepare our team as to compared to play in Azlan Shah Cup,” he
said.
The PHF secretary said Pakistan were already on tour of New
Zealand and Australia to play a bilateral series with the two
countries. “Matches in New Zealand, commencing today will end on
March 23. While the Australian leg of the tour will start from
March 28,” he said.
Australia are currently ranked as the world’s top hockey side
as per International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings, while New
Zealand are ranked 8th. The experience gained during these two
series and then against Spain will help Pakistan prepare for the
all-important Hockey World League’s semi finals to be held in London
in June this year which doubles up as the 2018 World Cup qualifier,
he added.
It may be mentioned here that the PHF secretary has already
written a letter to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Malaysia, asking
it to convey Pakistan’s concerns to Malaysian Sports Ministry over
MHC’s move to not consider Pakistan team for the event. The PHF has
also conveyed reservations to the Asian Hockey Federation to take up
the issue with the MHC.