Pak tour beneficial: Al-Batrani

Lahore—Manager, Oman U18 hockey team, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Batrani has termed the visit of his team to Pakistan “beneficial” for its preparations for the Junior Asia Cup being played in Dhaka, Bangladesh from September 24.
“It is a very important visit in many aspects, to prepare our team for the coming cup and to play a much stronger side to get much useful practice and confidence ahead of our coming assignment in Dhaka,” he told APP here on Thursday night after the arrival of the team.
He said the tour of Pakistan is a way forward for his side to improve in many ways and to boost its confidence ahead of a tough assignment. “We look forward to an exciting series and we hope that this event will improve friendly ties between the two countries besides promoting hockey,” said the visiting team official.
“We are very happy to visit Pakistan. Playing against a strong team like Pakistan will be the best preparation for us and Oman Hockey Association is grateful to the PHF for accepting our request to play four match test series in Lahore,” he asserted.
“In fact, Oman/Pakistan hockey relations have a long history as Pakistan greatly helped us when we were getting ready for our maiden appearance in a big event, the 1982 Asian Games. Oman’s national team had two month training in Karachi. We surprised everyone by finishing as high as 6th at those Asian Games,” he recalled.
That cooperation has continued ever since. Oman hockey is grateful to Shakir Munir, a former junior Pakistan international. Shakir, who is accompanying the squad as goalkeeping coach, has rendered great service as Oman’s goal keeper coach for last so many years. Presently, he is also working as the international coordinator with the OHA. He was instrumental in arranging this tour. Only last month, he had arranged a match on Pakistan’s Independence Day between the Oman’s national side and the star studded PIA from Pakistan, he said.
In addition, a number of Pakistani hockey stars, mostly internationals, have been appearing in Oman’s domestic events, the H.M.Cup and the League.
Speaking on the occasion, on the behalf of the PHF, World Cup winner Naveed Alam, Director PHF Development & Domestic, welcomed the Omani team and wished them a happy stay in Pakistan. He further said, “PHF’s endeavour to bring international hockey to Pakistan has finally been successful. This should encourage other countries also to send teams to Pakistan. That, along with already enhanced activity at all the levels, junior, senior and women, should go a long way in the revival of the sport in the country.”—APP

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