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Friday September 20, 2013 MYT 5:31:00 PM
Friday September 20, 2013 MYT 5:34:16 PM
by s. ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: The eighth edition of the Women’s Asia Cup gets underway on Saturday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and the focus of the teams will be on World Cup qualification.
Defending champions China and South Korea have secured their places in the World Cup and the fight is between Japan and India to join them. These are the top four Asian teams in the world.
Japan have a lifeline in the event that China or South Korea win the tournament. They will get a ride into the World Cup thanks to their reserve status from the World Hockey League.
India have no such luck and will need to win the Asia Cup to make the cut. The same goes for Malaysia who are ranked fifth in Asia and 22nd at world level.
It will indeed be an uphill task for Malaysia to make it to the World Cup. In the FIH (International Hockey Federation) world rankings China is in seventh place followed by South Korea and Japan in eighth and ninth positions. India is ranked 12th while Kazakhstan, Taiwan and Hong Kong come in at 32nd, 39th and 52nd positions respectively.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are realistic in their aims, hoping to enjoy the home ground advantage and improve on their ranking.
Said senior vice president Dr S. Shamala after the launch of the tournament here: “We have seen how our men’s team had benefited playing at home and the crowd support they enjoyed. And we need to popularise the game further and what better way than to have a world class event here.”
“This is the first time the big four of Asia are playing together here in Kuala Lumpur. These teams have the ability to match the best in the world and will give Malaysia a good test.”
The eight-team tournament sees Malaysia in Group A with China, Hong Kong and India while the Group B teams are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.
Malaysia will play China in their opening match and that will be a clear indication of where they stand among Asia’s elite teams.
Malaysia’s coach Mohamed Nasihin Nubli said that their initial target remains the same, which is to make it to the semi-finals.
“We want to improve on our ranking. We will take it one match at a time and progress from there. We need to win at least two matches in our group to make it to the last four,” he said.
South Korea vs Kazakhstan – 6.00pm (Pitch II)
Malaysia vs China – 6.30pm (Pitch I)
India vs Hong Kong – 8.00pm (Pitch II)
Japan vs Taiwan – 8.30pm (Pitch I)
Kazakhstan vs Taian – 6.00pm (Pitch II)
Malaysia vs Hong Kong – 6.30pm (Pitch I)
India vs China – 8.00pm (Pitch II)
Japan vs South Korea – 8.30pm (Pitch I)
Tags / Keywords:
hockey, women, Asia Cup, Malaysia, MHC, Malaysian Hockey Confederation, Dr S. Shamala, Mohamed Nasihin Nubli
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