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Pak mull pulling out of Azlan Shah

Source: PTI
March 16, 2010 19:15 IST
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Left with little option after the mass retirement of players and the sacking of the selection panel following it's dismal showing in the hockey World Cup, Pakistan might skip the inaugural AHF Champions Trophy and Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Malaysia later this year.

Four-time champions Pakistan registered its worst-ever performance in the World Cup, finishing last in the 12-team competition which concluded here on Saturday.

Subsequently, the entire 18-member squad led by Zeeshan Ashraf retired from international hockey taking moral responsibility of the performance, while the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has sacked the team management and the selection committee chaired by Olympian Hassan Sardar.

Struggling to deal with these issues, sources within PHF said chances were high that Pakistan might pull out of these two events.

"Officials are contemplating the idea of pulling out as they don't have any other option. The decision over players resignation is still pending and the new selection committee has not yet been constituted. In these circumstances, it is impossible to field a squad for the tournaments," a top PHF official said.

The Asian Hockey Federation's (AHF) Champions Trophy is slated to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 13-18 while the Azlan Shah Cup will be held at the same venue from May 6-16.

PHF secretary and the team manager during the World Cup Asif Bajwa has confirmed that the national federation was thinking of giving these two tournaments a miss but a decision on this matter would be taken later in the week.

"Nothing is finalised as of now but we might stay out of the AHF Champions Trophy and Azlan Shah Cup. We will discuss a whole range of issues in an important meeting this weekend and a decision regarding our participation in these tournaments will be taken in that," Bajwa said.

Bajwa was of the view that Pakistan does not have adequate replacements for these retired players.

"We have to take any decision very carefully. These players have played well throughout the year and one cannot ignore the fact. There is no doubt that we could not live up to the expectations in the World Cup but there were some fitness related issues behind that. I am going to elaborate all in my report." he said

PHF president Qasim Zia, meanwhile, said that they have asked the players to reconsider their "emotional" decision.

"Players decision to resign was an emotional one and we have asked them to reconsider that. There are many talented players in the team who will play for Pakistan in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games for sure," he said.

"We are going to constitute a new selection panel but it will take at least three weeks time. We are waiting for manager's report on the World Cup," he said.

He also said that a decision on non-performing seniors during the World Cup would be taken by the new selection committee.

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