Pakistan withdraws from three-nation hockey tourney

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Bangalore, Jan 14 (UNI) Pakistan has withdrawn from the proposed three-nation hockey tournament, involving Belgium and India, scheduled to be held in Chennai.

National Chief Coach Joaquim Carvalho told UNI here today that India and Belgium would now play a five-test series from January 25.

Earlier, the tournament was scheduled for January 22.

He said that according to communication received from the Indian Hockey Federation, ''Pakistan has pulled out of the tournament and five test series has been arranged between India and Belgium.'' The tournament was aimed at giving more practice involving foreign teams before the Olympic Qualifiers begins on March 1 in Chile.

A nine-day camp began at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Southern Centre on the ourskirts of the city on January 10. But players would get good exposure by playing matches abroad before the Olympic Qualifiers, he said.

''Boys after PHL are in good shape and I am confident of the team qualifying for the Bejing Olympics. Our Boys are maintaining their tempo since the Asia Cup and it was proved in the recently concluded PHL,'' he added.

Mr Carvalho said, ''the players are raring to go and in excellent mood. They are still rejoicing over the recognition they received after the Asia Cup win. No stone will be left unturned and the team will return home in flying colours.'' As for the ongoing camp for the test series against Belgium, Carvalho said, ''we are adhering to the strategies and involving the players in set-piece situations.'' The team would tour Western Australia for a couple of practice matches after the test series and return to India, before leaving for Chile.

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