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Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed has said that the visit of World XI and former greats was unforgettable, writes Syed Intikhab Ali.

“Thanks God, my efforts to get these international players and officials here paid off,” he said while talking to ‘The News’ at National Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

“Their visit has given us a lot of confidence. It sends a good message to all hockey-playing countries. They now know that Pakistan is peaceful and is ready for international matches,” he said.

He also said the spirited display of hockey by Pakistani players against a much more experienced side was wonderful.

Shahbaz said that the experiment of fielding Pakistan juniors against the World XI proved beneficial. “It proved that our junior players have potential and that they can be fielded against the strong teams of the world,” he added.

He said the juniors played better in Lahore than they did in Karachi. “It means they are learning from their mistakes and improving. These boys are our future. They will go to Argentina next month to play a five-match series against the Olympic champions,” he said.

He mentioned that the Green-shirts were playing against a team that had collectively played around 3000 international matches.

He said the PHF would soon start preparations for Pakistan Hockey League (PHL). “The tour of World XI and the presence of the former legends will help us make it a successful event,” he added.

“Due to the arrival of World XI and former greats, foreign players from strong hockey teams of the world will come here to play the PHL,” Shahbaz said.

He further said that a three- or four-nation tournament would be organised in the country to help Pakistan seniors prepare for Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

Syed Intikhab Ali

The News