Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has decided to field talented players from the juniors’ pool in matches against the visiting World XI. Pakistan are to play two matches against the World XI this month in Karachi and Lahore.
PHF high officials said that a team comprising Pakistan’s junior players would face the World XI in Karachi on January 19 and Lahore on 21. Informed sources in the PHF revealed that the decision to this effect was taken keeping in mind the future requirements.
PHF is focusing on strengthening the junior team and wants to provide the players opportunities to hone their skills. “It is the right time for them to play against the World XI. It will give them immense experience,” said an official.
The juniors training camp is going on in Karachi. The camp training will be in full swing when the World XI arrives. No major hockey-playing nation has sent its team to Pakistan for several years, nor have the Green-shirts been invited abroad.
This has resulted in Pakistan going down to the 13th rank in the world. Pakistan’s senior team has qualified for this year’s World Cup, but it has to qualify for 2020 Olympics.Many players of the current senior team will retire after the World Cup, so giving the juniors ample exposure is imperative at the moment.
Playing against the World XI will help the juniors gain valuable experience. The junior team is to play Asia Cup in 2019 and World Cup in 2020. Before these big events, PHF wants to make it strong enough to compete against higher-ranked teams, said a high official in PHF. The World XI’s visit is part of PHF’s efforts to revive international hockey in the country. The junior players are training in Karachi these days for the tour to Argentina next month.
Syed Intikhab Ali