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KARACHI: The euphoria around the arrival of a hockey World XI to Pakistan, which heralds a major breakthrough in the revival of foreign teams’ tours here, has built up as the first batch of players arrives on Tuesday.

According to schedule, two players — former legendary penalty corner striker Paul Litjens and Rob Lathouwers accompanied by Sultan Ahmed (manager designate of the World XI) — will be the first to arrive at the Karachi’s Quaid-i-Azam International Airport by Emirates Airlines flight EK 608 on Tuesday.

The second batch comprising five players — Phil Burrows, Juan Escarre (playing coach), Grant Schubert, Don Prior and Kyle Pontifex — arrives on Wednesday. With the exception of Kyle, the other four are due to arrive by the same flight EK-608 while the latter will land by EK 600.

As many as 13 players are set to arrive by different flights on Thursday. They include Rob Reckers, Roderick Weusthof, Hidde Turkstra, Roc Oliva, David Alegre, Agustin Bugallo, Nahuel Salls, Diego Paz, Benni wess, Justus Scharowsky, Floris Jan Bovelander, Christian Blunk and Philip Meulenbroek.

The last batch of two players — Matthijs and Santi Freixa — is due to arrive on Friday.

The foreign players belong to the Argentina, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and New Zealand.

The visiting World XI will play two matches — first at Abdul Sattar Edhi Stadium in the city on Friday and the second at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore on Sunday.

Veteran Dutch star Paul Litjens is the senior most player and was part of the Holland team that featured in the PIA Champions Trophy at the formerly Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium in 1981.

The first match will be played under floodlit at 8.30pm.

According to tentative itinerary, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will host official Hall of Fame dinner on Thursday.

The PHF had already announced names for Hall of Fame. The players who will be honoured include Islahuddin Siddiqui, Shahnaz Sheikh, Akhtar Rasool, Samiullah, Hasan Sardar and Shahbaz Ahmed.

Meanwhile, the stadium is getting a facelift for the much-hyped match that takes place after a long time, a visit by this correspondent revealed.

“Renovation work of player’s hostel, rooms inside the stadium is in full swing besides paints and replacement of broken chairs,” the director administration of the PHF camp office Waseeq Ahmed told Dawn.

“The hosting of the second match at Lahore on Sunday depends on the fog and the security conditions as Tahir-ul-Qadri has announced countrywide protest from Jan 17,” a source confided to Dawn.

“If conditions allow, the second match will be played at Lahore as per schedule but in case of reversal, it will take place at Karachi,” the source added.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2018

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