Pakistan granted special spot in Champions Trophy

KARACHI: Pakistan’s national hockey team has been granted entry into the Champions Trophy by International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Narinder Batra after the request made by Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar.

Pakistan were granted entry on the basis of the argument that they were not able to qualify for all the major events in 2018, which will halt the growth of the game in the country.

“As Pakistan were unable to qualify for all major events including the World Cup and Olympics, so Khokhar made a request to the FIH president Batra, who is also the former president of Hockey India, that Pakistan should be granted an entry in the Champions Trophy to help the team grow,” PHF secretary Shahbaz Senior told The Express Tribune.

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Outlining the terms of inclusion, Shahbaz said Pakistan will play as the seventh team in the event. “Pakistan needs to participate in international events to grow and this is one of those events where the top six teams of the world are available to play against,” he said. “Normally it is a six team event, but Pakistan has been included as the seventh team courtesy a special request and will play against every team in the event.”

The event is comprised of hosts Netherlands, defending champions and the Olympics, World Cup and World Hockey League winners. The remaining spots are be filled by the FIH executive board.

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“Our team has enough time to prepare for the event and I am hopeful that we will be able to make a competitive team,” said Shahbaz. “In the last Champions Trophy, we just had a month to prepare which was not enough, but this time we will be able to make a good team that will not only participate in the event, but will win matches as well.”

The event is scheduled from June 23 till July 1 at Breda in Netherlands.

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