India series to be held this year: Zia


Pakistan Hockey Federation President Qasim Zia has said that the Pakistan-India hockey series would be held during current year. He was talking to reporters at the Lahore airport after returning from Malaysia.
He said that the players were working hard to achieve the targets set by the PHF. He said the team would become one of the leading teams in Olympics if players maintained discipline and performance. He expressed satisfaction over the performance of the team and hoped that the future of the team would be bright.
In a step towards the revival of international hockey in the country, the PHF officials recently met the presidents of various hockey federations. Since the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, no international sports body is willing to take the risk of sending their team to Pakistan for any event. As a result, the scheduled events were cancelled or rescheduled elsewhere, leaving Pakistani fans without any international sports tournaments.
However, it is expected that the Malaysian hockey team will visit Pakistan this year to play a series. Secretary Asif Bajwa said that two international events will be hosted in Pakistan in 2012. He made this announcement on his return from Malaysia, where he attended the Asian Hockey Federation meeting that also finalised the 2012 Hockey Calendar. A three-member surveillance team from Malaysia will visit Pakistan to observe the security conditions and then the decision of the tour will be taken, he added.
In accordance to the finalised calendar, he said Pakistan will host the 2012 Asian Club Hockey Championship in Lahore and 2012’s Indoor Asia Hockey Cup in Islamabad. Moreover, he stated that both the Indian and Pakistani hockey bodies were in contact with each other on a regular basis, with the hope of conducting a bilateral series this year. The Pakistan High Commission will soon finalise the series in a meeting with the federation officials of the neighbouring country. Hopefully, the series will be held either in September or November this year, he added.
According to the Bajwa, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) had given permission to the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) to conduct a hockey league and the PHF has no objection if any player from Pakistan was interested in participating in it. Moreover, such appearance will enable the two countries to strengthen their sport relations.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran expressed satisfaction at the team’s performance in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and said they are on the right track for the 2012 London Olympics. On his arrival from Ipoh, where Pakistan reached the final of the Azlan Shah Cup before losing 3-2 to world champions Australia on a golden goal, Imran said his team gave its best in the seven-nation event.
“We are making the right progress for the Olympic Games which is our main target now,’ said Imran. Khawaja Junaid, Pakistan’s manager, feels Pakistan have a good mix of youth and experienced, adding that he has great hopes from the team. “We have just the right combination of youngsters and experienced players and that is the biggest reason behind the positive results we have achieved in the last few months,” said Junaid, a former Olympian.