Malaysia to replace Pakistan in 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup in India

FIH blamed Pakistan's hockey governing body for delay in securing visas for its players.

Malaysia senior hockey team
Malaysia senior hockey team (Representational image) Reuters

Malaysia's junior hockey Men's team has been invited by the World Hockey Federation (FIH) to take part in the Junior Hockey World Cup, starting 8 December in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The team from the Southeast Asian country will replace Pakistan, who according to the FIH were unable to participate due to visa issues despite the green shirts officially qualifying for the 16-team tournament.

Malaysia have been drafted into one of the four Pools in the group stages - Pool B. They will be playing their tournament opener in Lucknow on 10 December against Netherlands at 10:30pm (Malaysia time) before facing Egypt [11 December] and Belgium [12 December] later.

Notably, Malaysia finished fourth for the fourth time in the tournament's history in the 2013 edition of the tournament, which was also held in India.

FIH blames Pakistan

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had reportedly informed the FIH on Monday that it had not got the visa for its players to travel to the neighbouring country for the tournament after which the world governing body decided to withdraw Pakistan's invitation to the tournament.

Also, the FIH pointed fingers at PHF for not being able to secure the required documents and blamed the Pakistan hockey's governing body for applying visa after the deadline.

"[PHF were]not able to show that their team would be able to travel to Lucknow for the event which begins in only a few days' time even after a number of correspondence and reminders," the FIH said in an official statement, as quoted by The Express Tribune.

However, PHF secretary Shehbaz Ahmed denied having delayed the process and said their expulsion from the tournament was "pre-planned" and blamed India for it.

"Pakistan did not delay any schedule obligation and it is all India's fault to not issue visa to Pakistan's delegation before deadline. Our government had timely issued No Objection Certificates for players to take part in the tournament," Ahmed said, as quoted by the Dawn.

"We had planned training camps for our players so how can we delay any schedule to jeopardise our participation. I had already seen it coming that this decision by FIH is going to go against Pakistan."

Strained Indo-Pak relations

Notably, tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated after after an attack carried out at an Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir allegedly by militants from Pakistan that killed 19 Indian soldiers in September.

Bilateral ties have been severed and sporting relations have also taken a hit. While India's cricket governing body - Board of Control for Cricket in India - said they would not engage in any cricketing activities with their neighbours, the Pakistan Kabaddi team was also not allowed to take part in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, which was held in India last month.