Bangladesh make it three in a row
Bangladesh national hockey team emerged unbeaten champions in the Men’s AHF Cup after inflicting an emphatic 3-0 defeat on Sri Lanka in the final at King’s Park hockey ground in Hong Kong yesterday.
Retaining the title of the fifth AHF Cup — which completes a hattrick of titles after their Singapore (2008) and Thailand (2012) triumphs — meant that Bangladesh have qualified for next year’s 10th Asia Cup as the last and eighth team to join auto-qualifiers South Korea, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, China and Oman. The next edition of the Asia Cup will be held in September-October 2017.
Pre-tournament favourites Bangladesh came into the final with a massive 8-0 win over Singapore in the semifinal but the boys in red and green could not repeat the feat of the semifinal. Instead, they found the going a bit hard against their South Asian rivals, who played their semifinal match early the same morning after the scheduled semifinal on Saturday was washed out due to the heavy rain.
Sri Lanka, who have given Bangladesh a run for their money in most of their previous meetings, were aiming to repeat their 2006 SA Games feat when they cost Bangladesh the bronze, but German coach Oliver Kurtz’s charges did not give them any room.
Striker Hasan Jubair Niloy, who was later adjudged man of the final, finally broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute before penalty-corner specialist Ashraful Islam doubled the margin by converting a penalty corner in the 61st minute. Veteran midfielder Kamruzzaman Rana took the match away from Sri Lanka and wrapped up the victory three minutes from time after converting another penalty corner.
“We are not thinking about the margin; rather we are happy because we have achieved our target by winning the AHF Cup,” said captain Rasel Mahmud Jimmy over the phone.
“We have played better than in the match against Singapore today [Sunday] but we have also wasted a lot of scoring chances as well as penalty corners. Each and every player played really well. The margin could have been 7-0 or 8-0 had we not squandered the opportunities,” said Jimmy who now wants to concentrate on the upcoming World Hockey League Round-2 to be held in Bangladesh next March.