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Top players set to arrive in Pakistan as part of World XI hockey team

Updated January 13, 2018

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LAHORE: The World XI team will comprise some top players during their tour of Pakistan next week with Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) officials hoping it will become a “defining moment” for the sport in the country.

In a news release on Friday, the PHF told the details of the squad which will play against Pakistan on January 19 and 21 in Karachi and Lahore respectively.

“The World XI includes players from the Olympic champions Argentina, world champions Australia and European champions Netherlands,” it said. “In addition, there are stars from Germany and New Zealand.

“The three Argentines are young members of the current national team while Australian Grant Schubert has gold medals from all the big events: Olympics, World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

“Three Dutch players have Olympic as well as European championship medals. A fourth, the 19-year-old Turkstra, played in the 2016 Olympics.

“Likewise, two Spaniards have Olympic silver and European gold in their trophy cabinet. Phil Burrows is New Zealand’s all-time top field goal scorer. Germany’s Benni Wess is double Olym­pic gold medallist. The other German Justus Scharowsky is a World Cup winner.

“Pride of Pakistan Sohail Abbas, scorer of the highest number of goals in international hockey, will also play for the World XI.”

PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior said that Sohail will lead the World XI in the opening match.

“A foreigner, however, will be the captain of the World XI in the second game,” he told APP on Friday.

He added that during the tour, five Pakistan greats will be induced in the Hall of Fame during a ceremony ahead of the first game.

“They include Shahnaz Sheikh, Akthar Rasool, Samiullah, Hasan Sardar and me,” he said.

PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, meanwhile, said the event would be historic.

“It is going to be a history-making moment in Pakistan hockey as we will have a high-profile hockey event after a gap of many years”, he told APP on Friday.

“This will be a defining moment for the sport and we need regular international hockey events in order to revive our sagging fortunes.

“This World XI tour will help in inspiring the youth to take up hockey as a sport and to provide a rare opportunity to our spectators to watch stars of hockey in action in their own backyard”.

He said the World XI tour will be a way forward to hold the Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) in a successful way.

“With the tour of World XI we will be able to enhance our capability and managerial qualities for hosting the PHL in a trend setting way” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018