Pak hockey players to get grand welcome after CT performance
Pakistan Hockey Federation has planned a grand welcome for its team, which finished runners-up in the just-concluded Champions Trophy, when the players return home tomorrow via the Wagah border.
Karachi: Pakistan Hockey Federation has planned a grand welcome for its team, which finished runners-up in the just-concluded Champions Trophy, when the players return home tomorrow via the Wagah border.
The grand welcome is being organised amid a souring of relationship with India over the boorish behaviour of Pakistan players after their semifinal win over their arch rivals in Bhubaneswar.
Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary Rana Mujahid, without making any reference to the strong reaction from Hockey India, said he would appeal to all former Olympians and fans to greet the team at the Wagah border.
He said the team would be brought to Lahore in a motorcade procession.
"The team reached the final of the Champions Trophy after a long gap of 16 years which was a great achievement for a team deprived of international hockey because of various reasons," he said.
He said though the team lost to Germany in the final, the players did an excellent job by beating Holland and India on their home ground en route to final.
"I invite every Pakistani to reach the Wagah border to give warm welcome to the national team that won silver medal in the Champions Trophy in India," Mujahid said.
Even though Pakistan team management has been forced to issue a public apology for the obscene behaviour of some players after the semifinal match against India, the reaction in Pakistan has been generally in favour of the players.
A senior official of the PHF admitted that relations with India had soured after the incident but was hopeful things would settle down soon.
"We feel there was an over reaction in Indian media to what happened after the semifinal match and we want to let the players know we support them by giving them a historic welcome on Tuesday," he added.
Former Olympian Qamar Ibrahim defended the players, saying that the emotions they had shown were understandable after beating India.
"The Indians did nearly the same celebrations after beating us in the Asia Cup final. They also indulged in boorish behaviour against Australia but strangely the FIH had nothing to say on that," Ibrahim said.
The Pakistani players are expected to be rewarded with cash prizes when they return home after reaching the final of the Champions Trophy.