2017 Hockey Asia Cup: Need to be aggressive, says Bangladesh coach Raihan Mahamud

(Image credit-Dhaka Tribune)

Kolkata: Bangladesh will play a fighting brand of hockey and prove their competitiveness to the rest of the teams in the upcoming Asia Cup, said chief coach Raihan Mahamud on Monday.

“Pitted against the 1st, 2nd and 5th ranked teams of Asia, Bangladesh does not have many targets in the field, but playing a fighting brand of hockey and proving our competency to surge ahead will be our primary goals. The passionate fans for sure will be the morale boosters in the crunch times and our preparations have been strong with focus on improving in all departments,” said Mahamud according to a press release.

The Hero Asia Cup 2017 is set to begin on October 11 at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium, Dhaka, which will see eight teams fight for the top honors. Hosts Bangladesh are grouped with India, Pakistan and Japan in Pool A while Malaysia, Oman, Korea and China are part of Pool B.

The former SAFF Champions did not have good outings in the previous tournaments this year, which includes a fifth placed finish at the World Hockey League Round 2. Coach Mahamud pointed out that the team as a whole was disappointed for the poor performance, but have set their sights on the Asia Cup to improve their record.

“We lost against Oman finishing fifth in the eight-team event. The performance was average and not up to the mark. But at the Hero Asia Cup 2017 we have nothing to lose but earn and learn a lot. We are not afraid of the other teams rather we are focused upon what we have which is to put up a good show,” he said.

Bangladesh last hosted the Asia Cup in 1985, which ended with a high-voltage India-Pakistan final and the latter coming on top. With the 34th ranked nation set to host the Asia Cup this year, not just the players and it’s fans but the whole country has risen to the occasion and Mahamud hopes that the tournament can attract more aspiring stars to the game.

“The prestigious event returns to Bangladesh after 32 years and I believe this will initiate a new era for hockey in the country. Hero Asia Cup 2017 is a big platform and the matches being played under floodlights, the live telecast and great level of hockey definitely opens a new horizon for the sport,”  he said.

Talking of his team’s chances the coach said that the boys will be playing in front of the home fans and he wants them to soak in the support and perform well. “The most important thing is to put a good show on the turf. Fans play a role in motivating the players but a good performance is most important,” said Mahamud.

He also picked India and Korea as the countries that has a greater chance of winning the cup. However, “Malaysia too may stand strong in their path to the title,” he concluded.

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