A 25-member Bangladesh national hockey team left Dhaka for Hong Kong on Wednesday, hoping to retain the title of Men’s AHF Cup, which gets underway on November 19.
Bangladesh won the title in the last two editions in 2008 in Singapore and 2012 in Thailand and will be seeking their third consecutive title which would give them a direct berth in next year’s men’s Asia Cup.
The two-time champions were drawn in Pool A with hosts Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Macao while the Pool B is comprised of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
Bangladesh will begin their campaign against Hong Kong on November 19 and they will play their next two Pool matches against Chinese Taipei and Macao respectively on November 21 and 23.
Newly-appointed German head coach, Oliver Kurtz, was excited ahead of his maiden assignment.
‘Of course we should win the title anyway. Otherwise, I am not a good coach,’ said the German, who took over the charge on October 11.
Oliver picked an 18-member squad for the tournament, mixing it with young and experienced players, who he believes are capable of bringing the success with their best effort.
Bangladesh recently visited Europe and played eight matches as part of their preparation.
Oliver kept his faith on some experienced players including striker Russell Mahmud Jimmy, defender Mamunur Rahman Chayan and midfielder Kamruzzaman Rana, who excelled in 20-day long trip.
Penalty corner specialist Chayan and midfielder Rana were dropped from the national squad before the South Asian Games earlier this year but they put some brilliant performances in the warm-up matches against Poland and Austria.
Oliver said he tried to bring some changes in the playing style and he is eager to see his charges use the tactics in the AHF Cup that they learnt in the conditioning camp in Europe.
‘We must learn the European tactics if we are to improve,’ said Oliver.
‘The Asian players, not only Bangladesh, are talented with ball and skill but they must have the tactical knowledge.
‘They have to establish control like European style. That is why we preferred to go to Europe for practice matches.’
Oliver chose veteran striker Jimmy as captain of the side, giving him the responsibility for the first time since 2012.
Jimmy claimed that the strength of the team is better than the past.
‘We have a huge strength in our side bench which I think will help us to fulfill our target of winning the title,’ said Jimmy, who lifted the last edition AHF Cup trophy as captain.
‘As a captain I want to become champions once again and also want to show our calibre to the other participating teams.’
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