MUSCAT: Thousands of hockey fans cheered Asian heavyweights India and Pakistan as the players exhibited top-class skills during the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 final that kept the fans on the edge of the seat till the final hooter.
India edged past arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 to clinch the prestigious title at the Salalah Sports Complex in Oman earlier this month.
Impressed by the organisational capabilities of the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) and the success of Junior Asia Cup, the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) awarded Oman the rights to host the inaugural Men and Women Hockey5s Asia Cup.
In exclusive remarks to Times of Oman, a top OHA official confirmed that the Men and Women Hockey5s Asia Cup will be held in Salalah from August 25-September 3.
He said: “This is a reward for our organisational and hosting success of the Men’s Junior Asia Cup. It was a grand success and what better way to end the tournament than witness a blockbuster final between India and Pakistan.
“We were not expected to host the Men and Women’s Hockey5s Asia Cup, which will also serve as the qualifier for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup, to be hosted in Muscat in January 2024. However, with the onset of Khareef season this month, we thought it would be a good platform to host and promote Oman as a tourism destination. The AHF was happy to award us the hosting rights.”
The Khareef season in Salalah attracts thousands of visitors from the region. Salalah is transformed during Khareef as a green paradise.
A total of 24 teams, 12 men and 12 women are expected to take part in the inaugural Men and Women Hockey5s Asia Cup. It would also determine the three men and women teams from Asia who will qualify for the first edition of the Hockey5s World Cup in Muscat.
The Asia Cup is an open tournament and the teams expected to take part it in Salalah World Cup Qualifer are India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka.
Oman have qualified as host nation but will compete in the qualifier to get match practice.
The visiting teams can expect fog, overcast skies and temperatures hovering around mid-20 degrees Celsius and the new speedy format is expected to also draw huge crowds. The Hockey5s Asia Cup will also serve as a countdown for the OHA as they prepare to host the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup at the brand-new hockey arena at Al Amerat on the outskirts of Muscat in January 2024. So far, Oman have qualified as host nation for both men and women’s events.
The men’s European, African and Pan American Qualifiers for the World Cup have concluded. Belgium, Netherlands and Poland (Europe), Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria (Africa), Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and US (Pan America) have secured berth for the Hockey5s World Cup in Oman . A total of 16 teams in men and women will compete in the opening edition of Hockey5s World Cup.
Three Asian teams will make it from Salalah Qualifier while three from Oceania will join to complete the 16.
In the women’s category, six teams and hosts Oman have sealed their berths. Namibia, South Africa and Zambia advanced from African Qualifier while United States, Uruguay and Paraguay made it from Pan American Qualifier in Jamaica. The remaining men and women’s qualifiers will be completed by July.
Monsoon clouds from the Indian Ocean blanket the region in a constant rolling mist. The gentle rain and the mountains surrounding Salalah are a hotspot for tourists with waterfalls one of the main attractions.