LAHORE

Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) chairman Maj Gen Isfandiyar Ali Khan Pataudi hosted a reception in the honour of Pakistan polo team here at a local hotel on Tuesday.

Pakistan team defeated India by 9-8 to qualify for next year’s Polo World Cup. Notables present on the occasion were Lahore Polo Club (LPC) president Haye Mehta, ex-LPC president Irfan Ali Haider, former internationally-renowned polo player Gen (r) Hanif Minhas and polo lovers.

Speaking at the occasion, the PPA chairman said: “The Federation of International Polo (FIP) holds World Polo Championship every four years. The teams are distributed into various zones. Pakistan falls in Zone-D, including other countries such as, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia, Singapore and Iran. This year, World Polo Championship Zone-D Playoff was held in Tianjin, China in which only two countries participated; Pakistan and India. “Other countries included in Zone-D, mentioned above, did not enter their teams for reasons best known to them. At the last Zone- D Playoffs held in Malaysia in 2011, seven countries participated out of which, three teams Pakistan, India and Australia qualified for the finals of the Polo World Championship which was held in Argentina in 2011.”

“Pakistan polo team was selected by a three member selection committee which had initially shortlisted 10 polo players for the training camp, and subsequently, selected six players based on their current playing form, ability and experience,” he added. “Maj Haseeb Minhas (3 goals) was captain of Pakistan polo team which other members were Zain Khakwani (3 goals), Saqib Khakwani (4 goals), Ahmed Ali Tiwana (4 goals). Sufi M Amir (2 goals) and Ahmed Nawaz Tiwana (2 goals) were reserves. Abdul Qadir Khan Mamdot was team manager while experienced Shah Qublai Alam was team coach,” he concluded.

Sharing his views, Shah Qublai said: “I am very confident about Pakistan team chances in the upcoming World Polo Championship. The upcoming polo session will provide our players opportunity to prepare well for the mega event. Some of our players will go to play leagues abroad, so they will have god time and opportunities to make them ready for the world polo.”

To a query regarding naming the final team for the prestigious event, Qublai replied: “We will shortlist the main players in February and send names to the FIP one month earlier. Then among these shortlisted players, we will pick the final squad.”

World Polo Championship will be played in Chile in March 2015. Only six teams will participate in its finals. The teams that have so far qualified are: Zone A: America, Zone B: Argentina and Chile, Zone C: England and Zone D: Pakistan.