KARACHI: The formidable National Bank of Pakistan are on course for a hat-trick when the third Chief of the Naval Staff All-Pakistan Hockey Tournament rolls off at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.

Hosts Navy will face Punjab in the opening match at 4pm.

NBP have returned with flying colours in the last two events. They defeated Sui Southern Gas Company 2-0 in the final of the inaugural event in 2016 and maintained their ascendancy by getting the better of Wapda on sudden death penalty shootout in 2018.

NBP head into the tournament having won the Azadi Cup, coasting to 3-2 victory over Wapda on penalty shootout after being tied 2-2 in regulation time, in Rawalpindi last month.

If past performances are to be a yardstick, NBP and Wapda are likely to clash again in the final on Sept 28.

The details of the richest-ever hockey competition were announced by patron PN hockey Cdre Kashif Munir in a press conference at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Monday. He was flanked by Olympians Samiullah, Hanif Khan, tournament director Nasir Ali, and PHF Coordinator Haider Hussain.

Outlining the details, he said eight teams will vie for honours in the event. They have been divided in two pools and top two teams will make it to the last four.

The winners will receive a purse of Rs1.7 million while runners-up will be awarded Rs1.3 million. The third-placed team will earn Rs1 million besides trophies and individual prizes. In addition, prizes in cash and kind have been allocated for outstanding individual performers.

Cdre Munir shed light on naval contribution for the promotion of sports in the country. He said CNS Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi is committed to promote hockey and other sports in the country.Laying off five-a-side astro turf at the Edhi stadium and enhancement of prize money are examples in this regard, he added.

Asked about the fallout of SSGC from the event, Nasir said it was their management’s decision to opt out from the event. They were replaced by the ninth-ranked team Port Qasim Authority. He lamented that earlier a number of departmental teams like PIA, Habib Bank, United Bank, MCB etc. used to participate in the events but now they have disbanded their teams.

Samiullah and Hanif Khan paid compliments to the Navy for promoting hockey activities on regular basis.

After the press conference, the trophy was unveiled before the media amidst fireworks and applause.

The CNS hockey may be the last event before demolition and restructuring of the stadium.

Pools:

Pool ‘A’: Wapda, Mari Petroleum Gas Limited, Pakistan Air Force, Port Qasim Authority.

Pool ‘B’: National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan Navy, Punjab, Pakistan Army.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

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