LAHORE: The Pakistan hockey team’s tour to Europe will help the players prepare for the Asia Cup, the sport’s national governing body’s secretary Asif Bajwa said Wednesday.
Pakistan drew their two-match series against Netherlands after winning the first match 5-3, a day before the hosts bounced back 4-1 to level the series played in the southern city of Breda.
Pakistan play Belgium on Friday before they travel to Spain for a three-match series against the hosts.
With the Asia Cup scheduled to start on May 23 in Jakarta, Indonesia, Bajwa said the European tour held crucial importance. The PHF secretary said the matches against Netherlands were scheduled after a special request.
“We have formally requested matches from the Netherlands National Hockey Association during our tour of Europe to prepare for the Asia Cup 2022,” Bajwa, 53, said in a statement.
“The Netherlands hockey team had a busy schedule during our requested dates but despite this the Dutch hockey administration not only tried its best to arrange the best players but also made them part of the team.”
Performance at the Asia Cup will also be a qualifying event for the 2023 World Cup. Bajwa, who played for Pakistan from 1992-96, said the national side was in a process of identifying the best combination of players ahead of the big events.
“Foreign teams are preparing for the 2023 World Cup and are trying different combinations,” said the 1992 Olympics bronze medallist.
“The PHF has decided to test the potential of seven new players in major events under the supervision of qualified foreign coaches and give the debutants a chance to tour Europe.
“Most of these players also showed their full potential to play in the Asian Champions Trophy 2021 in Dhaka.”