OHA chief brings big ticket hockey to Oman

Muscat, Jan 15 – Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Chairman Talib al Wahaibi has pulled off a sensation for Oman by bringing big-ticket hockey to the Sultanate for the first time. For the first time ever, Oman will host and play a four-nation friendly tournament featuring the giants of Asian hockey Pakistan and South Korea along with Japan from February 13-20. Pakistan, who are three-time Olympic and four-time World Champions, and South Korea, silver medallists in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, come with a huge legacy in the game and that will certainly have its bearing for a developing Oman team and for the game in general in the country.

For Oman, who are slowly and steadily climbing up the ladder of Asian hockey, this will definitely be a huge boost in terms of experience and exposure. OHA Chairman Talib al Wahaibi was ecstatic after revealing the news to Oman Daily Observer over the telephone. “This will be a tremendous blockbuster event for us. To have huge teams like Pakistan, South Korea and Japan will be big for Oman,’’ he added. “I hope the stadiums are full with the presence of hockey lovers,’’ the chairman added. The OHA has also received the approval and endorsement of the FIH, the game’s world governing body, in this regard.

OHA Chairman Talib al Wahaibi

With Oman gearing up to play the Asian Games qualifying round matches in March in Muscat, the four-nation friendly will act as apt preparation for the national team. The OHA chairman also said Oman was fortunate in having the big teams here and the only two missing teams were India and Malaysia. “We will try to get India in October and that will be another big visit for us,’’ he added. Coach Zaman thanks AHF CEO Oman coach Tahir Zaman appreciated the efforts of Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) CEO Tayyib Ikram for convincing Pakistan, South Korea and Japan to play in the four-nation friendly.

“I would like to mention the efforts of AHF CEO Tayyib Ikram for getting these teams to agree to play in Oman. It would be a huge tournament for us,’’ he added. Zaman said the tournament would be ideal preparation for the players ahead of the Asian Games Qualifier in March. “It would be apt in terms of preparation. We would be able to assess where we stand with respect to these higher ranked teams and also gain much needed experience and exposure,’’ the former Pakistan great said.

Zaman also stressed on the significance for the Omani players to compete against some of the best teams in Asia in front of the home crowd. “The fact that the players will compete against these big teams in front of their families and the rest of the countrymen will serve as added motivation for them during the games,’’ the coach stated.

Haridev Pushparaj