Asia Cup ready to start
30 Aug 2007 08:28
The seventh edition of the Asia Cup is all set to roll into history on Friday in Chennai, India. India defends the title won last at Kuala Lumpur in 2003.
By S. Thyagarajan
For the first time since launch in 1982 at Karachi as many as 11 countries in the region are taking part. The highest thus far (10) has been in Dhaka in 1985.
Pakistan has won the trophy three times so far, in 1982, 1985 and 1989 while South Korea has taken the cup twice, in 1993 and 1999. The only win for India was in 2003.
What is significant in the 2007 edition is the ranking status accorded to the event by the FIH. The participants will earn ABN AMRO World Ranking points.
This is a single motivating factor for every team, including the three, Korea, China and Pakistan, who have qualified for the Olympic Games at Beijing by virtue of their medals obtained in Doha Asian Games.
The tournament holds great significance for India and Malaysia as both are making valiant efforts to take a spot in the 12 for the Beijing Games through the qualifiers early next year.
The Chennai edition was originally scheduled to be held from 1 until 9 September, but the late entry from Pakistan, which was initially reluctant to take part, resulted in shuffling the pools and fixtures. An extra day had to be added.
The following are the pools: A: Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong (China) and Singapore; B: Korea, India (holder), China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The title sponsor the event is India's national telecom, BNSL.