HM Cup to bring spotlight on hockey

Oman hockey will witness the keenly-contested His Majesty’s Cup Championship from November 16 as the draw for the competition was made late on Monday.
After the nine teams competing in two groups — based in Muscat and Dhofar — the final round will be held in Muscat on December 1 and 9. The qualified six teams will be divided into two pools and the top two from both pools will make it to the semifinals on December 11 and 13. The semifinals will be a two-legged affair and the final, which is yet to be decided, is slated to be held during December 18, 19 or 20.
HH Sayyid Fahar bin Fatiq al Said, President of Al Suwaiq Club, was the chief guest for the draw ceremony. Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Chairman Talib al Wahaiby, chairmen of various sports associations, top officials at the Ministry of Sports Affairs and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Sayyid Fahar said the competition will be closely fought for the prestigious trophy.
“I am looking forward to some exciting matches in the HM Cup.”
He hoped more clubs will join the championship in the future.
“I expect more teams (clubs) in the championship in the next editions. The clubs have to come up with teams in all sports and for hockey there is a very good following.”
OHA Chairman Talib al Wahaiby opined that the draw was fair enough and hoped that the teams will put out their best in the championship.
On the preparation for Asian Games Qualifiers in Muscat in February 2018, he said the OHA is well on course for the successful conduct for the high-profile event.
A decision on a fitness coach for Oman national team will be taken during the next meeting of the OHA board, he added.
In the HM Cup, the winners will take home a purse of RO 40,000. The runners-up will get RO 25,000 and third-placed team gets RO 15, 000.
There will be individual awards for the best player, best goalkeeper and top scorer.
Defending champions Seeb will open their title defence against 10-time champions Ahli Sidab on November 16 in the Muscat Group at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex courts in Bausher.
Seeb had captured their record 11th title last year when they beat Bausher 3-2 in the final.
Former champions Dhofar and Salalah both kick off their campaign in Dhofar Group on November 16 at the Al Saada Sports Complex.
A double-league format will be played in Dhofar with the top two teams directly making it to the final round along with top three teams from the Muscat Group.
A play-off between the fourth-placed team (Muscat) and the third-placed team (Dhofar) will decide the sixth and final team for the final round. Teams in Muscat Group are Ahli Sidab, Al Salam, Seeb, Sohar and Bausher.
Al Nasr, Dhofar, Salalah and Al Ittihad constitute the Dhofar Group.
Muscat Group
At Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex
Sohar v Bausher (Nov 16) 6 pm
Ahli Sidab v Seeb (Nov 16) 8 pm
Sohar v Al Salam (Nov 17) 6 pm
Ahli Sidab v Bausher (Nov 17) 8 pm
Bausher v Al Salam (Nov 23) 6 pm
Seeb v Sohar (Nov 23) 8 pm
Al Salam v Seeb (Nov 24) 6 pm
Ahli Sidab v Sohar (Nov 25) 6 pm
Seeb v Bausher (Nov 27) 6 pm
Ahli Sidab v Seeb (Nov 27) 8 pm
Dhofar Group
At Al Saada Sports Complex
First leg
Dhofar v Al Ittihad (Nov 16) 4.30 pm
Salalah v Al Nasr (Nov 16) 6.30 pm
Al Ittihad v Salalah (Nov 17) 4.30 pm
Dhofar v Al Nasr (Nov 17) 6.30 pm
Salalah v Dhofar (Nov 20) 4.30 pm
Al Ittihad v Al Nasr (Nov 20) 6.30 pm
Second leg
Al Ittihad v Dhofar (Nov 23) 4.30 pm
Al Nasr v Salalah (Nov 23) 6.30 pm
Salalah v Al Ittihad (Nov 24) 4.30 pm
Al Nasr v Dhofar (Nov 24) 6.30 pm
Dhofar v Salalah (Nov 26) 4.30 pm
Al Nasr v Al Ittihad (Nov 26) 6.30 pm

Anuroop Athiparambath