Bangladesh will kick off their Boys' Under-18 Asia Cup Hockey campaign on Saturday with a tough test on the opening day as the hosts face favourites India in a Pool A match. The game begins at Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium at 3pm.
The fourth edition of the tournament will be inaugurated with the match between China and Hong Kong at 11am while Chinese Taipei will take on Pakistan in the second match of the day at 1pm at the same venue.
It has been 15 years since Bangladesh last took part in the event. They didn't participate in the next two editions in 2009 and 2011.
Bangladesh, guided by coach Zahid Hossain Raju, have been training at BKSP in Savar for the last one and a half month. They have four players - Romman Sarkar, Fazle Hossain Rabby, Arshad Hossain and defender Ashraful Islam – in the squad who have experience of playing for the senior side while most of the players were selected from BKSP.
“We played together for BKSP and in the premier league so team spirit is quite good. We worked hard and are prepared to play against India. We want to win but let's not forget that India are technically better than us. We will face the challenge with team work,” said Raju on Friday.
On the other hand, India coach BJ Kariappa said, “Everyone thinks India are favourites but we don't think about it. We are ready to give our best performance. Bangladesh are tough opponents at their home. They have some experienced players. We expect a tough challenge [Saturday].”
A total of seven countries, split into two groups, will take part in the event. Bangladesh have been placed in Pool A along with favourites India and Oman while Pool B comprises China, Pakistan, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong.
Bangladesh will be up against Oman in their next game this Tuesday.