Pakistan not to hold four-nation hockey tournament

Karachi, Nov 27( Pakistan’s hockey authorities have given up plans to host a four-nation tournament in Lahore in January in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup that gets underway in New Delhi Feb 28 because of security fears.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was planning to line up a quadrangular tournament just weeks before the start of the World Cup to ensure top class preparations for its players but is now looking at other options as other teams are still not willing to tour the country.

Asif Bajwa, the PHF secretary, said his team’s preparations for the 12-nation World Cup remains on course, adding that the federation will do its best to confirm at least four pre-World Cup games for the national side. One of the teams targeted for a warm-up series is India.

“In the current situation no (international) team is ready to come to Pakistan which is why we are now completely focusing on tying up games against leading teams on neutral venues, preferably in the Gulf,” said Bajwa, a former Olympian.

Bajwa, who is also Pakistan’s manager, said he would personally talk to senior coaching staff of teams like Argentina, New Zealand, India, Canada and South Africa during the eight-nation Champions Challenge to confirm matches against those teams before the World Cup.

“All these teams will be coming to Argentina for the Champions Challenge that will give us a perfect opportunity to line up some good warm-up games before our team goes to New Delhi,” said Bajwa.

Argentina will host the Champions Challenge in Salta Dec 6-13. Pakistan will be joined by hosts Argentina, India, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and China in the tournament that will serve as the qualifying round for the elite six-nation Champions Trophy.

Pakistan will return home around the middle of next month and their players will then feature in the National Championship before reassembling for the World Cup training camp.

Defending champions Germany will head the team line-up for the World Cup that includes Australia, Netherlands, Spain, Korea, Pakistan, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, England, Argentina and hosts India.