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Pak, Aus arrive for hockey WC amid tight security

Source: PTI
February 23, 2010 09:11 IST
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With five days to go for the World Cup, Pakistan, Australia and South African hockey teams arrived in New Delhi on Monday amid tight security in the wake of the recent terror threats, which forced a New Zealand player to pull out of the mega event starting Sunday.

An 18-member Australian squad, under coach Ric Charlesworth, was the first team to land at the national capital in the wee hours today followed by South Africa in the afternoon.

The Pakistan team, meanwhile, entered India through the Wagah Border and reached here around 8 pm.

Apart from Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, a three-member support staff of Canada, including coach Alan Brahmst arrived, while the players will touch down in Delhi on Tuesday.

South Korea and the Netherlands are the other two teams which arrived late on Monday to participate in the February 28-March 13 tournament, while four more competing nations will reach on Tuesday.

"All the teams are coming as per schedule. Canada, New Zealand, Spain and Argentina will be reaching tomorrow while England will come on Wednesday and Germany on Thursday," Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said.

Meanwhile, concerned over security, New Zealand striker Simon Child has pulled out of the tournament, saying that he took the decision as he felt that he could not give his best under such a heightened security environment.

Security in and around the national capital has been beefed up keeping in mind the recent terror threat by an Al Qaeda operative who had warned foreign athletes against taking part in sporting events like the World Cup, Indian Premier League and the Commonwealth Games in India.

Pak team satisfied with security arrangements

Pakistan hockey team on Monday expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements made by the Indian authorities for the World Cup and said they have come here to spread the message of peace and bridge the divide between the two countries.

The 18-member squad arrived by bus to participate in the 12-nation mega event through the Wagah border.

The players and officials were a tired lot after their 15-hour-long tedious journey which they started around 5am from Lahore but they still took out time to speak to journalists.

"We are happy with the security arrangements made for us and the World Cup. Right from the point we entered India till here at the hotel (Le Meridien), security was strict and tight," said team manager Asif Bajwa.

"We are the ambassador of peace and harmony who have come here to spread love and to play to our full potential," said Bajwa, who is also Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary.

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