KARACHI: Pakistan have pulled out of a four-nation hockey tournament in Russia this summer after old rivals India withdrew from the contest, a top national team official said on Monday.
Shahid Ali Khan, Pakistan team’s head coach, said that his team will not be competing in the Moscow quadrangular next month because India’s withdrawal from it will leave the field without any worthwhile competition.
“We will not be going to Moscow as it will be useless to play against teams, who are quite low in international rankings,” said Shahid, a former Olympian.
Earlier, Pakistan had confirmed their participation in the four-nation event which was supposed to see in action India, South Africa and hosts Russia. However, following India’s decision to pull out of the tournament, the event’s organisers were planning to invite minnows Bangladesh as replacement.
Shahid said that Pakistan were looking forward to featuring in the Moscow event mainly because of the match against India.“But now that India are out, it will not really benefit us to take part in the four-nation event against teams like Bangladesh, who are ranked much lower than us,” he stressed.
Pakistan were planning to use the Moscow assignment as a launch pad for the preparations aimed at the World Cup Qualifiers to be held later this year.The Greenshirts were unable to win a direct spot in the 2010 World Cup after losing to Korea in the final of the Asia Cup in Kuantan (Malaysia) earlier this month. They will now be featuring in one of the World Cup qualifying events.
The first such tournament will be held in Lille, France from October 31 to November 8, 2009. Second tournament will be held in Invercargill, New Zealand from November 7 to November 15, 2009 while the third tournament, which was originally awarded to Dubai, is subject to the bid details from Malaysia.
Now, Pakistan only have just one confirmed international assignment this summer — a three-match Test series against England in June-July.Pakistan will be going to England late June and will play the three Tests there. They are also trying to line up a Test series against Wales.
Shahid said that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will make efforts to confirm Test matches against European powerhouses — Germany, Netherlands and Spain.“It will be great if our team gets some matches against top teams like Germany and Netherlands ahead of the World Cup qualifying rounds,” he said.
“What we need are some tough games because that will give us the sort of preparations we need before going into the qualifying tournament.”Pakistan, record four-time World Cup champions, will have to win a qualifying event to confirm a berth in next year’s World Cup to be held in New Delhi, India. Any mishap will keep them out of the quadrennial spectacle for the first time in international hockey history.
“It’s very important for us to qualify for the World Cup,” said Shahid. “That’s why the PHF will take all possible steps to ensure that our team is fully ready for the assignment,” he concluded.