The eight-nation Hero 10th Men’s Asia Cup Hockey Bangladesh 2017, a quadrennial prestigious meet and a qualifying event of 2018 Men’s World Cup, begins at the Maulana Bhashani National Stadium here on Wednesday amid huge enthusiasm among the sports lovers.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal will be the chief guest at the inaugural function.
Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Arif Khan Joy, President of Bangladesh Hockey Federation Air Marshall Abu Esar and CEO of Asian Hockey Federation and member of the IOC Commission Dato Tayyab Ikram will also be present on the occasion.
Two times champions and top ranked India will play Japan in the inaugural match at 3pm while hosts Bangladesh will meet their giant rivals and three times champions Pakistan at 5:30pm.
On the following day (Thursday), Malaysia will play China at 3pm while holders South Korea will face Oman in the other match of the day at 5:30pm.
Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) in cooperation with Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) and title sponsors Hero MotoCorp is organising the biggest continental hockey festival in Bangladesh after 32 years since the 2nd Asia Cup in Dhaka in 1985.
Eight leading teams of Asia featuring hosts Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Japan in Pool A and defending champions South Korea, China, Malaysia and Oman in Pool B will battle here during the October 11-22 competition for the top spot in Asia and as well as to win the berth for the 2018 Odisha Men’s Hockey Cup in Bhubaneswar in India.
Captains of all eight participating teams took part in a photo session at the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on Tuesday.
Ahead of the match against Pakistan, Bangladesh coach Mahbub Harun said, “We’ll play in our home ground which is an advantage for us. I advised my players to play for the country. We aren’t afraid of Pakistan and not taking any pressure against them. We just want to play our usual game.”
Earlier, Rasel Mahmud Jimmy, the Bangladesh captain, vowed to present Bangladesh as a fighting team. “We want to play a brand of hockey that would show the strength of Bangladesh. Bangladesh won’t be afraid of any team. Rather we are focused on our strengths” said Jimmy.
Meanwhile, the games venue Maulana Bhashani National Stadium and the surrounding areas were wore a festive look with renovation and extension works in the office room, gallery and field.
The stadium was upgraded to international standard with the installation floodlights and giant electronics scoreboard ahead of the meet. Introduced in 1982, the inaugural Men’s Asia Cup was won by Pakistan who also won the next two editions in 1985 and 1989. Since then, India (2003, 2007) and Korea (1993, 1999, 2009 and 2013) have also been champions in the nine editions played so far.