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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Some crib but India see gains of pre-Asiad hockey meet

We are looking forward to the positives and negatives, says Craig Fulton

PTI Chennai Published 02.08.23, 08:40 AM
Pakistan’s players at the Attari Wagah Border near Amritsar on Tuesday.

Pakistan’s players at the Attari Wagah Border near Amritsar on Tuesday. PTI Photo

Malaysian hockey coach Arul Anthoni might be bemused by the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) being held so close to the Asian Games but India head coach Craig Fulton on Tuesday said it remains an important event to fine-tune the preparations for the quadrennial continental showpiece.

The Asian Champions Trophy will conclude on August 12, a little over five weeks before the Asian Games commences in Hangzhou, China, raising questions over the timing of the event in Chennai.

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“... it’s something that you have to do. But we need the games. So, it’s important that we play it. It’s even better that it’s in India,” Fulton told reporters.

“We are looking forward to the positives and negatives. But, at the same time, we get to look at a few extra players as well, which is important for us. Injury is never nice for any team or player. So, yes, I understand the clash and the timing.”

Malaysian head coach Anthoni was not too happy with the timing of the Asian Champions Trophy, saying it “interrupted” their preparation ahead of the Asian Games, the winner of which qualifies for the Olympic Games.

“I am a bit curious about it because we, as coaches, need 18 to 24 months to plan the team.

“To organise a tournament five weeks before a major event, I’m curious to know the reason behind it,” Anthoni said.

“Hopefully, Asian hockey works closely with FIH (International Hockey Federation) and organises better because our programme was interrupted. We had to tour Europe. We were supposed to have matches against Belgium, Holland (Netherlands), France and Spain. Everything was in place.”

Japanese head coach Akira Takahashi, however, said it is an advantage for his side to play this event right before the Hangzhou Games.

“It is an advantage for us because we are not a strong side. So, we have to improve a lot, and playing this tournament will prove to be advantageous for us,” he said.

The ACT will witness the high-profile clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan on August 9.

Besides the Men in Green, four other teams — China, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia — would also be battling it out.

The Pakistan hockey team arrived in India on Tuesday via the Attari-Wagah border to participate in the meet which begins on Thursday.

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