KARACHI: A new-look Pakistan hockey team is expected to feature in the 29th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup being held at Ipoh from Nov 1-10 as nine players of the national team have opted out of the camp that commenced at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Monday.

The nine senior players, who are said to be playing pro-league in England are Imad Shakeel Butt, Mubasher Ali, Hammaduddin Anju­m, Ahmed Nadeem, Abdul Manan, Ghazanfar Ali, Moeen Shakeel, Ijaz Ahmed and Rizwan Ali.

The remaining 23 probables invited by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) reported in the camp and underwent a practice session, officials told Dawn.

According to officials, Imad and Mubasher who went to Birmingham with the Pakistan team to feature in Commonwealth Games have stayed back while the remaining who returned with the team, have travelled to England again.

“Imad and Mubasher, in a communication to PHF, have tendered their resignations on the pretext to give time to their families,” said the officials.

Besides Imad and Mubasher, Ahmed and Ijaz had obtained NOCs from the former PHF secretary Asif Bajwa while others have gone without permission. However, the PHF has cancelled their NOCs.

Asked about joining of Dutch coach Siegfried Aikman in the camp, the official said he is waiting for his visa and is expected to join the camp soon.

It is not the first time Aikman has missed part of Pakistan’s preparations for a major tournament. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in June, the Pakistan Hockey Federation had applied for the single-entry visa category for the Dutchman in December last year instead of the multiple-entry category, which resulted in the head coach reporting to the camp days after it had already started.

The visa issues have now been sorted and Aikman to expected to arrive in Karachi soon.

Probables: Abdullah Ishtiaq, Akmal Hussain, Waqar, Abdullah Sheikh, Mohammad Abdullah, Sufyan, Mohammad Umar Bhatta, Rana Abdul Waheed, Ehtesham Aslam, Osama Bashir, Junaid Manzoor, Arbaaz Ahmed, M. Murtaza Yaqub and Zahidullah, Rana Sohail Riaz, Abuzar, Mohammad Shahzeb Khan, Arshad Liaquat, Ali Murtaza, Ruman Khan, Faraz, Abdul Hanan Shahid and Obaidullah Bhutto.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

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