WE ARE OPEN TO PLAY­ING IN­DIA IN OMAN, SAYS PHF SEC­RE­TARY

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

host­ing of the se­ries. The re­cent visit of Pak­istan Hockey Fed­er­a­tion (PHF) sec­re­tary and for­mer Pak­istan cap­tain Shah­baz Ahmed Se­nior, to Muscat once again brought the mat­ter into fo­cus and the top PHF of­fi­cial was open to a pro­posal of a Test se­ries be­tween In­dian and Pak­istan in Muscat.

“We are open to the idea of play­ing in Muscat, which is like a sec­ond home for us. There is a huge ex­pa­tri­ate pop­u­la­tion of Pak­ista­nis and In­di­ans and the fa­cil­i­ties are good. Any In­dia-Pak­istan match is like a block­buster and pro­duces sen­sa­tional games,” said Shah­baz.

“Frankly, we have not yet re­ceived any writ­ten re­quest or pro­posal from the Oman Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion (OHA) or the Asian Hockey Fed­er­a­tion (AHF) on the host­ing of In­dia-Pak­istan Tests in Oman. We are ready to play but a for­mal writ­ten re­quest has to be made be­fore we can think about it,” said the 49 year old star, the only player to have won two con­sec­u­tive player of the tour­na­ment awards at the World Cups in 1990 and 1994.

Though In­dia and Pak­istan have not played in a bi­lat­eral se­ries since 2006, the two archri­vals have faced each other at the World Cup, Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, Sul­tan Azlan Shah Cup, Asian Games, Asia Cup, South Asian Games, Com­mon­wealth Games, and re­cently at the FIH Hockey World League.

Shah­baz said that the lack of bi­lat­eral sport­ing ties be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan has harmed the growth of the game. “In­dia and Pak­istan matches are loved by fans across the world as the at­mos­phere is usu­ally elec­tric. The lack of bi­lat­eral se­ries have cer­tainly af­fected the game in both coun­tries,” said Shah­baz, con­sid­ered to be one of the great­est for­wards ever.

The World-Cup win­ning cap­tain, who played in three Olympics, said his aim is to re­vive Pak­istan hockey and has drawn plans to achieve it.

“We have qual­i­fied for next year's World Cup in In­dia and re­cently had a meet­ing in Dubai with the FIH chief on fa­cil­i­tat­ing our team’s visit to In­dia.”

About his team’s prospects at next year’s World Cup, he said, “I think if Pak­istan can fin­ish among the top-six, it would be an achieve­ment in it­self. We have tal­ented play­ers but the need for them is to fo­cus on phys­i­cal fit­ness. The squad at the World Cup will be a mix of young and ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers. We may even have even two-three play­ers from the de­vel­op­ment squad that played in Oman.”

(Syed Fa­si­ud­din/Muscat Daily)

The vic­to­ri­ous Pak­istan De­vel­op­ment Squad mem­bers cel­e­brate with the tro­phy at the Sul­tan Qa­boos Sports Com­plex on Fri­day

Shah­baz Ahmed Se­nior, Pak­istan Hockey Fed­er­a­tion sec­re­tary

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