MUSCAT, Sept 13
Oman Hockey Association is gearing up for a busy domestic season with one year left for the prestigious 2024 Hockey5s World Cup.
The seven-team Oman Hockey League 2022 will begin on September 23 and concludes on October 10.
The Sultanate of Oman will host the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey5s World Cup, the quadrennial world championship for men's and women's national hockey5s teams organised by the world hockey body FIH. It will be held in January 2024 in Muscat. The qualification process is ongoing now.
OHA Chairman Dr Marwan bin Juma al Juma shared his thoughts on the national team and detailed the preparations for the global showpiece event in Oman during an exclusive interview with the Oman Daily Observer. “We are in full earnest working towards the big project of Hockey5s World Cup with support from the government and private entities.”
“There will be new turfs laid out at the existing hockey courts at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher. An additional hockey court is under construction adjacent to the hockey stadium. It will be made a hockey5s court.”
For the World Cup, the main hockey court will be turned into two hockey5s courts and along with the new court, there will be three venues for the tournament.
“After the World Cup, the main courts will be returned to the 11s format, while the new hockey5s court will remain as it is,” Al Juma said.
Regarding the national team’s participation in the Asian Cup 2022, the OHA chief said technically the team has improved a lot.
“Though we didn’t fare much on results wise, we had a very good tournament. Oman players now have no fear of facing the top-ranking teams such as South Korea and Pakistan as they scored goals against these teams,” Dr Marwan said.
Oman’s lone win in the Asian Cup 2022 (May 23 to June 1) came against hosts Indonesia in the seventh-eighth play-off match. Oman beat Indonesia 2-0 to finish seventh in the eight-team tournament.
Oman, ranked 26th in the world, had emerged champions of the Asian Games Qualifiers in Bangkok (May 6 to 15) ahead of the Asian Cup.
Oman thrashed Bangladesh 6-2 in the final exacting a revenge for their final loss in penalty shoot-out at the AHF Cup in the Indonesia capital of Jakarta from March 11 to 20.
The OHA chairman highlighted the match against Pakistan as Oman’s best in the Asian Cup. Pakistan won 5-2.
“We scored first in the match against the Asian giants. Overall it was a good performance by the boys and they showed no nerves of facing a top ranking team.”
“We have many positives to take from Asian Cup though we were lacking on scoring and finishing,” Al Juma said.
NEW LEAGUE SYSTEM
The OHA is planning to overhaul the domestic league system in 2023 ahead of the World Cup.
The existing Oman Hockey League system will be changed by constituting the main first division league for the top six clubs. Other teams from the 14 active clubs affiliated to the OHA will play in the second division league.
“Our main aim is to bring more professionalism in players and officials.”
The OHA is also in the process of setting up a youth development centre for hockey.
“The OHA is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth as the Ministry is handing over the charge of its Youth Development Centres to the respective sports associations. We will take care of hockey and many clubs have shown interest to host the centre for hockey,” Dr Marwan said.