Pakistan pull out of the three-nation hockey tournament


Chennai : Pakistan have pulled out of the proposed three-nation hockey tournament scheduled to be held here later this month, involving hosts India and Belgium.

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Speaking to the reporters here Monday, Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) secretary-general K. Jyothikumaran said: “Pakistan had earlier agreed in principle to take part in the tournament to be held in Chennai at the end of this month. But they withdrew saying they did not have sufficient time to complete official formalities.”

The event, thus, has been reduced to a five-Test series between India and Belgium.

“Hopefully, the matches against Belgium will provide excellent practice for India ahead of their Olympic qualifier to be held in Santiago, Chile, from March 1-9,” added Jyothikumaran.

The five-match Test series, to be played under floodlights at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here, have been slated from Jan 25-31. Both the teams will have 24-member squad, of which 18 will be nominated for each Test.

Belgium registered a shock win over World champions Germany in the bronze medal play-off match at the European championship last year and qualified for the Beijing Olympics to be held in August this year.

Immediately after the Test series, the Indian team would leave for Perth, Australia, for a training-cum-competition tour from Feb 1-15, where they are scheduled to play a total of six matches against Western Australia, the touring Chinese team and a local team.

The Indian squad will then return home before leaving for Chile for the Olympic qualifiers tournament, which will feature Great Britain, Austria, Chile, Bangladesh and Mexico. India will have to win the tournament outright to qualify for the Olympics.