All eight participating teams of the 10th Men’s Asia Cup Hockey hoped to produce their best in the tournament, which is scheduled to get underway at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
Eight teams split into two pools will play in the group stage to settle their rankings for the place-deciding matches.
Hosts Bangladesh were drawn in Pool A alongside fallen giants Pakistan, India, and Japan while the Pool B consisted of defending champions South Korea, Malaysia, China and Oman.
Asia’s biggest hockey show, which Bangladesh is going to host for the first time since 1985, will begin with the Pool A match between India and Japan before the hosts taking on Pakistan in the next match on the same day.
South Korea, Malaysia, India, and Pakistan are expected to fight for the title in the tournament while the remaining four teams have their stake in the tournament.
Bangladesh team captain Russell Mahmud Jimmy said they would try to give their best to make the job of opponents difficult.
‘We worked really hard for the last three months to prepare for this tournament,’ Jimmy said at the joint press conference of teams in Dhaka.
‘As we are the bottom-ranked side, our main target will be boosting our position. The only thing I have told my team-mates is that we must not to give up before the game. We want to offer the great challenge, whoever our opponents are.’
Pakistan captain Mohammad Irfan aimed to restore their confidence after a poor show in the World Cup qualifiers.
‘Our performance was really poor in the last tournament [Hockey World League] and this was the reason for us to bring some changes in the team,’ said Irfan.
Pakistan lost five of their seven matches in Hockey World League, including two defeats against arch-rivals India by 6-1 and 7-1.
Irfan, who played for Abahani Limited in last season’s Premier Division Hockey League, refused to take Bangladesh lightly.
‘We have the full idea of the strength of Bangladesh because I played here for Abahani last year. They have some experienced players and they will get the support of the home crowd. So, the match will not be easy for us.’
Indian captain Manpreet Singh said they would prefer going forward match by match.
‘Every match is equally important for us and we want to go forward match by match,’ said Manpreet.
‘We came here with good preparation and I think this tournament is a great platform for every player to show their worth. We are ready to give our best.’
Defending champions South Korea captain Seung Lee was hoping to improve their trophy collection by lifting their fifth Asia Cup title.
‘We have come here to win, to become champions,’ said Lee.
‘Everyone in our team wants to play in the World Cup, so except winning the title it would be a disappointing result for us.’
Asian Hockey Federation chief executive officer Dato Tayyab Ikram unveiled the trophy of the tournament in presence of Bangladesh Hockey Federation general secretary Abdus Sadeque and executive member of AHF and representative of Bangladesh, Abdur Rashid Sikder.
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