PHF to release players for PHL in India

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Lahore, Dec 14 (UNI) Reciprocating to India's decision of sending their top players for next year's Super Hockey League (SHL), to be held here, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), has agreed to release eight of their leading players for India's Premier Hockey League (PHL).

Khalid Mehmood, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary, however, said the decision was taken after some reluctance as there were doubts that India might not be able to send their players for Pakistan's SHL which the PHF is planning to host in March next year.

''Since India are to feature in the Olympic Qualifiers in March, we feared that they might decide against sending their leading players for our league to shield them from injuries,'' Khalid said.

''But we have received assurances (from India) that they would be sending top players for our league,'' he added.

PHF has agreed to send Pakistan captain Salman Akbar, Zeeshan Ashraf, Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Adnan Maqsood, Dilawar Hussain, Ghazanfar Ali and Kamran Ahmed to India for the PHL starting from December 20.

Pakistan could not host the SHL this year because of financial constraints but are making efforts to host the league early next year. The PHF wanted to stage the event in February at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore but are now willing to hold it in March to accommodate the Indian stars.

Pakistan are yet to finalise the details of their league. Khalid said the PHF will soon begin efforts to hold the SHL in a befitting manner.

''We believe that the league will be an excellent platform to kick off our Olympic preparations,'' Khalid told 'The News'.

Three-time champions Pakistan have already qualified for the Beijing Games to be held next August.

UNI

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