The Sultanate of Oman will host the Men’s Junior Asia Cup for the first time as the ninth edition of the tournament will happen in Salalah from May 23 to June 1.
The matches will be held at the hockey pitch in the Sultan Qaboos Youth and Cultural Complex in Salalah.
“The Asian Junior competitions aim to set a benchmark, creating a significant exposure and developmental opportunity for our young athletes in Asia. We aspire our youth to experience only the best,” Asian Hockey President Dato Fumio Ogura said while announcing Salalah as the hosts of the tournament.
Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Chairman Dr Marwan al Juma said it is an encouraging development for the OHA.
“We are happy to host the Men’s Junior Asia Cup for the first time. It comes well in our objectives to give international exposure to Oman hockey. Hosting international events is our aim to boost the profile of the country and game as well,” Dr Marwan told Oman Observer.
“The tournament will be important for the junior side who are the future of Oman hockey. Right now, our focus is on the senior side due to the Hockey 5s World Cup next year. But we are ensuring that the future players of Oman national team are well groomed in all available opportunities,” Al Juma added.
Oman junior team head coach Khalid Abdu Rehman welcomed the news saying that Oman will get a better chance in the Asian event as the home team.
“We are excited to host the tournament. Recently, we did well in the Junior AHF Cup in Muscat by finishing second. Our players are determined to improve our performance in the Salalah edition. We believe to achieve sixth position among the top teams in Asia,” Abdu Rehman said.
TRAINING CAMP IN INDIA PLANNED
OHA’s High-Performance Manager Shakir Munir said Oman junior and senior teams will begin their training camps from February 20.
“The teams are set to start their camps on February 20. There is a plan to hold a camp in India for the junior team from March 1 to 10. The OHA is awaiting the confirmation from Hockey India in this regard. The Oman side will play matches with the Indian Junior team during the camp in Bangalore,” Shakir said.
On a query about the availability of the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex for the training due to the preparation for the World Cup, Shakir said there are several turf pitches available with clubs like Seeb, Ahli Sidab, Sohar and Rustaq.
“There are several training facilities available for the teams in case of non-availability of the SQSC pitch in Bausher,” he added.
Ten junior national teams from around Asia will participate in this tournament.
The contestants include Bangladesh, Chinese Taipei, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Thailand and Uzbekistan. For this Junior championship, there is an age appropriation in place which requires all the participating athletes to have been born on or after January 1, 2002, making them 21 years old or less.
The top five teams India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and Malaysia got an automatic qualification based on their world rankings. Whereas, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei won their qualification from the Men’s Junior AHF Cup held in Muscat in January 2023.
Top three teams from the title tournament, apart from Malaysia which is already qualified as the host, will qualify to FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2023.