International hockey to return in Pakistan

Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary Asif Bajwa today said that the Egyptians had sent an e-mail confirming the series.

"We will go to Egypt in February next year and they will return the visit in March. It is a good sign for Pakistan hockey and the revival of international competitions in the country," Bajwa said.

No foreign team has toured Pakistan for the last few years because of security concerns and the International Hockey Federation was also forced to shift some international events from Pakistan for the same reason.

Bajwa said that the PHF had been working hard since last year to convince the FIH and member countries to play in Pakistan.

"Finally we have succeeded. We will also be working to get the Indians to send a team next year or play a bilateral series with us," he said.

Bajwa also said that at the annual PHF Congress held in Lahore, the federation had decided to retain the services of Dutch coach Van Den who had led Pakistan to the Asian Games hockey gold medal after 20 years.

"Van Den will continue with the team as coach until the next Olympics and World Cup. We are negotiating with him fresh terms," he said.

Media reports have said that the Dutch coach has some apprehensions about staying in Pakistan for long periods because of the security problems.

Bajwa said that the Congress had decided to lift life ban on former Pakistan captain and Olympian goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed after he had sought pardon.

"The life ban on Mansoor is lifted and he is now free to take part in hockey activities," he said.

The former goalkeeper was banned last year after giving critical statements about the PHF and being charged with wrongfully using the PHF credentials and writing to a European embassy in Islamabad to obtain visas for a private tour.

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