With the highly anticipated Asian Champions Trophy set to begin in two and a half weeks from now, the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) chairman Talib al Wahaibi stated the preparations are in full swing.
“Oman is ready to welcome its guests for the Asian Champions Trophy and we are optimistic about organising a great tournament,’’ Al Wahaibi added.
The six-nation tournament to be held from October 18-28 will comprise Asian giants India and Pakistan, heavyweights South Korea, Asian Games gold medallists Japan, silver-medallists Malaysia and the host nation Oman.
“The five visiting teams will be arriving on October 14th and 15th with South Korea and Japan landing on the 14th while India, Pakistan and Malaysia will be here on the 15th,’’ Al Wahaibi revealed.
The OHA chairman said the hockey stadium at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex is under renovation and all the necessary arrangements are being put in place.
“We are renovating and refurbishing the stadium for the tournament. We are adding extra seats as well to accommodate more spectators and we will have a capacity for 4,000 spectators. The big screen with a measurement of 6×4 will be put in place in the next three days. The video referral cabin and the commentators cabin will also be put in place. There will be 17 stands in place for 17 cameras. So all these arrangements as per the requirements of the tournament are being put in place,’’ chairman Al Wahaibi explained.
The OHA chairman feels the Asian Champions Trophy will be the biggest hockey tournament to be held in the Middle East and hopes Oman will benefit from hosting it.
“I hope with a tournament such as this it will boost the profile of Oman sport and also help Oman tourism as well since we are expecting visitors from abroad as well,’’ he added.
With the Oman hockey team back from Jakarta after a tough campaign finishing seventh, the Asian Champions Trophy will offer a different challenge altogether.
However, chairman Al Wahaibi wants to look at the positives that could come out of the championship as far as the Oman team is concerned.
“It will be the first time that our boys will be playing in a competition of this magnitude. The whole team will hopefully give a good account of themselves and they are currently practicing hard at the camp. It will be a good experience for them,’’ he added.
Oman’s first match will be against eight-time Olympic champions India and chairman Al Wahaibi expects a challenging encounter.
“We will give a tough competition to India and make it hard for them and the experience will be very good for us,’’ he added.
With a large expatriate community present in Muscat, the big day will be on October 20th when arch-rivals India and Pakistan go up against each other.
When asked if there are any special plans the OHA has in mind for the marquee match of the tournament, Al Wahaibi made an interesting revelation.
“We are in the process of talking to some Indian cricket and hockey legends and Pakistan cricket and hockey legends to be the guests of OHA,’’ he said.
The OHA chairman also revealed the ticket rates for the tournament.
“The normal tickets (standard) will be 2 rials while the VIP ticket will be for 5 rials. There will also be a season ticket for the tournament that will cost 12 rials with the VIP season ticket being priced at 25 rials,’’ Al Wahaibi stated.
Starlight LLC will be the main sponsor of the Oman hockey team for the tournament while BG Collections will be the co-sponsor.
The tournament will be broadcasted worldwide by Star Sports while Hero will be the official sponsor.
“I just hope that since we are having such a big tournament in Oman for the first time, I hope the private sector will come forward and work with OHA and support us. The tournament will be broadcasted in 70 different countries around the world and it will be a huge moment for the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex and Muscat,’’ chairman Al Wahaibi added.
The OHA chairman also thanked Shaikh Saad bin Mohammad al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, Under-Secretary Rashad bin Ahmed al Hinai and the Oman Olympic Committee for their support in assisting the OHA in organising the tournament.
ACT Ticket Rates
(all 20 matches):
Season VIP ticket (all 20 matches): 25 rials