The much-awaited 10th Hockey Asia Cup is only a day away. All the participating Asian powerhouses arrived in the capital and started their last-minute preparation at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium that is all set to host Asia's most prestigious hockey event after a long span of 32 years.
The official press conference of the mega event was held at a city hotel Monday where captains of all eight participating teams spoke to the media regarding their preparation and target. The top officials of Bangladesh Hockey Federation and Asian Hockey Federation were also present during the ceremony where the trophy was unveiled.
Bangladesh, being the host and placed in Pool A, will begin their campaign with a tough encounter against Pakistan Wednesday at 5:30pm. The men in red and green will face India and Japan on Friday and Sunday respectively.
Russel Mahmud Jimmy, the experienced captain of Bangladesh, is determined to put on a team effort and rectify their mistakes from the previous tournaments. Bangladesh's 2-1 win in Sunday's warm-up against Japan revealed some weaknesses in the side which Jimmy wants to rectify before the start of the tournament.
"We had a good start against Japan in the practice match but still there is room for improvement. We worked on it [Monday] morning. Now we want to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes and carry on in the upcoming event. If we play as a team and according to the plan of the coach, we have the ability to put up positive results against any team," said the national forward.
WHAT THEY SAID
Russel Mahmud Jimmy, Bangladesh captain
Our preparation in the last three months was focused on rectifying the mistakes we made in the previous tournaments where we couldn't give our best as a team. We wanted to be a good team. We are ready to face any team, let it be India, Pakistan or Japan. Our target is to perform to our best and go forward match by match.
Manpreet Singh, India captain
The tournament is a good platform for every player to show their worth, especially the young players. Every player has the chance to play against some big teams in Asia. Each match is important to us. We want to go forward match by match. We had good training sessions in India. We all are ready to give the best in the match.
Mohammad Irfan, Pakistan captain
There was disappointment regarding our performance in the last competition as our results were poor in the World Cup qualifiers. Some key players returned to the squad. There are three-four junior players in the team as well. Everyone is ready to perform well and determined to come back from the past.
Seung-il Lee, South Korea captain
(South) Korea came here to win, to become champion. All the players want to go to the World Cup.
Mohammad Sukri Abdul Motaleb, Malaysia captain
We had good preparation for the tournament and our target is to reach the final and qualify for the World Cup. We haven't won any Asia Cup but it is possible to write a new history because we worked hard in training. It is very important to make a good start in the tournament.
Du Chen, China captain
We had a three-month preparation for this tournament. We were involved in the National Hockey League, which started in August. Three senior national players could not join the team because of injuries. However, we want to finish the tournament either fourth or fifth.
Yamashita, Japan captain
We finished sixth last time and want to improve our position but retaining sixth will not be bad result for us although our side (are) a young side where only two players have experience of playing Asia Cup before. I believe we have that strength to pull off victory because our attackers are very fast and also have good penalty corner specialists in the side.
Hashem al-shatri, Oman captain
We had great practice sessions along with good camp before coming here. The boys are ready for the tournament. Like every team (are) looking forward to wins, we are also here to perform. Bangladesh team (are) now doing very good. But it only matters which team perform on the ground during match-day. The aim is to do something on the ground. Around six players are in the current squad (who featured in the U-18 Hockey Asia Cup in Dhaka last year).