Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran

LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed has expressed deep disappointment over declining standard of the game in the country.

Talking to reporters at the National Hockey Stadium on Friday, Shahbaz said the players were simply not good enough to compete at the international level and the way they performed at the recently-concluded Azlan Shah Cup was nothing but a great disappointment.

He added the players lacked stopping and receiving the ball skills and the PHF needed time to train the players. “Not even 20 Olympian coaches could turn these players into match-winners overnight.”

Around eight members of the Pakistan team which participated at the Azlan Shah Cup had played more than 100 matches.

Shahbaz was of the view that shortage of finance was also one of the major hurdles in resurrecting the game.

He said no European team would prefer to play a Test series with the current Pakistan team and advised the PHF to defer such series for some time to prepare the national team at home.

APP adds: The United Kingdom-based Slough hockey club has decided to organise three matches between Pakistan and India veterans next month.

Shahbaz said Slough chairman Harjit Sandhu was organising the matches.

“They have laid a new astro-turf in their club and these matches are part of inauguration,” he said.

The matches will be played on May 13, 14 and 15, he said.

“This is a very good initiative by the Slough hockey club,” he said adding there would hardly be anybody in this part of the world who did not want to see these teams play against each other.

M. Atiq, M. Rizwan, M. Khalid, Adnan, Zakir, Akthar Ali, M. Imran, Sharif Mohammad, Hussain Mohammad, M. Saqlain, Rehan Butt, Salman Akbar and M. Arshad are likely to play for Pakistan.

Indian team could have the services of Deepak Thakur, Pargat Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Harpal Singh, Rajpal and Inderjeet.

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