Bangladesh is ready to host the eight-nation Hero 10th Men's Asia Cup Hockey 2017, a quadrennial prestigious event of Asia, beginning at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in the city tomorrow (Wednesday), reports UNB.
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 tournament for the number-1 spot in Asia and as well as to win the berth for the 2018 Odisha Men's Hockey Cup in Bhubaneswar in India.
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 in the other opening day's fixture 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) with the support of Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) and title sponsors Hero MotoCorp is organising the biggest continental hockey festival in Bangladesh after 32 years since 2nd Asia Cup in Dhaka in 1985.
Addressing the pressmen in the official launching ceremony of the tournament, Chief Executive Officer of Asian Hockey Federation and member of the IOC Commission Dato Tayyab Ikram said the tournament will open the door of new opportunities for hockey.
"We have been waiting for long to see Dhaka step into the modern hockey arena and this edition of Asia Cup is special one with Asian Hockey Federation extending all the support behind it. I thank all the stakeholders and the Bangladesh government for hosting the meet and I hope Hero Asia Cup 2017 will produce a brilliant level of hockey," he added.
BHF General Secretary Abdus Sadeque gave the welcome speech at the function which was also attended by CEO of Hero Honda Ajoy Sinha and Executive Board member of AHF Abdur Rashid Sikder.
The BHF general secretary said, "It's a momentous occasion for us as the Hero Asia Cup 2017 is being hosted in our country after a span of 32 years."
He also expressed the hope to make the tournament a grand success. "We're ready for this."
The Hero Asia Cup Trophy was also unveiled at the function in the presence of dignitaries of captains of all the eight participating countries. All seven foreign teams are already in the capital to compete in the World Cup of Asia.
Indian captain Manpreet Singh, Pakistan captain Mohammad Irfan, South Korean captain Lee and Bangladesh captain Russell Mahmud Jimmy also spoke on the occasion to express their views, expectations and preparations.
Addressing the press, the captain of defending champions South Korea said, "Our target is to play in the World Cup."
Indian captain Manpreet Singh said, "Winning the tournament is our priority, but to do that we would like take each match at a time and make sure we perform well in all aspects of the game."
Pakistan captain Mohammad Irfan said they look forward to play good hockey and described Bangladesh as a good side.
Meanwhile, floodlights and electronics scoreboard have already been installed at the Maulana Bhashani National Stadium 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.