Pakistan hosts first international match after seven years

KARACHI,  (Reuters) – Pakistan marked the first international hockey match played in the country for seven years with a 3-0 win over China yesterday.

Pakistan last staged an international match in 2004 when it hosted the Champions Trophy in Lahore but since than foreign teams have refused to play in the country due to security concerns.

“It is a great feeling to finally to see an international team play in Pakistan. The ice has been broken and once this series ends smoothly we can build on it for Pakistani sports,” Pakistan hockey federation Secretary Asif Bajwa said.

The Chinese will play another three matches in Pakistan in what has been dubbed as the ‘Friendship Series’.

“We were able to focus completely on our hockey. Pakistan was the better team today. But we have had no problems with the security and other arrangements so far,” Chinese captain, Song Yi told reporters following the contest at Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium.

Pakistan captain Mohammad Imran scored two goals to set up the victory, which went some way towards healing dented pride after the Asian Games gold medallists finished seventh in the eight team Champions Trophy in Auckland.

Bajwa said that the series was important for not only hockey but also other sports in Pakistan.

“We are taking no chances with the security because we know the importance of having a incident free series,” he said.

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, foreign teams have been reluctant to travel to Pakistan in many sports and Asian country was left completely isolated as a sporting venue after militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009.

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