Muscat, Oct 8 (IANS) Defending champions India will be up against formidable sides including Asian Games gold medallists Japan, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea and hosts Oman, as they attempt to retain their Asian Champions Trophy crown at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex here from October 18.
The fifth edition of the 10-day biennial event titled Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 hosted by the Oman Hockey Federation will be one of the first big-ticket hockey events to be played in Muscat.
World No.5 India enter the tournament as the highest ranked side among the competing sides with Malaysia, ranked second best at No.12. Pakistan and South Korea are at No.13 and 14 respectively and with world no.16 Japan and a highly inspired Oman team round up an exciting mix of teams promising a fiercely competed tournament ahead.
Introduced in 2011, with the first edition played in Ordos, China, the Asian Champions Trophy is a marquee event in the Asian Hockey Federation’s (AHF) calendar.
The inaugural edition was clinched by India while Pakistan won the title twice in 2012 and 2013 before India lifted the title again in 2016 in Kuantan, Malaysia.
This year’s tournament will witness stiff competition among the top performing teams from across Asia with big stakes at play, especially in the lead up to the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, slated to begin on November 28.
Commenting on the tournament, AHF President Abdullah Ahmad Shah said: “This edition of Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 is crucial for the participating teams especially those who are taking part in the World Cup in Bhubaneswar 2018. I expect the competition to be fierce and engaging for the global audience.”