Tougher Asia Cup format calls for fitter players

  • Hockey
  • Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asia Cup in Dhaka will use a new format of a “tournament within a tournament”.

Unlike past editions where the champion are decided after five matches, this time it will take seven matches.

The Asia Cup, which is also a World Cup qualifier, will be held from Oct 11-22.

The eight teams will initially be divided into two groups.

Group A comprises India, Pakistan, Japan and hosts Bangladesh. Group B has Malaysia, South Korea, China and Oman.

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the next round – called the Super Fours. This will see all four teams in a single group and the top two will then meet in the final.

Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) chief executive Datuk Tayyab Ikram said that they decided to have extra group matches due to demands from television networks.

“There is a feeling that the previous format restricts the number of top-level games.

“By having the top four play in a round-robin format, there will be quality matches in the second round,” said Tayyab.

So far India, Malaysia and Pakistan have qualified for the World Cup in India next year. South Korea, China and Japan can make the cut if they win the Asia Cup.

National coach Stephen van Huizen said that the new format meant that “teams will need to be very fit to cope with the extra matches”.

“We have no issue with the format of play. Fitness will play a crucial role for all the teams. You have three matches in the preliminary round.

“For the top four sides, there will be another four matches before you can win the title.

“Since we all know the format, especially the Super Fours, we will be prepared for it,” he said.

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