Last night, Coach Mark Bailey named his squad for the 2003 Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September. The team may prove controversial, however with the record number of under 21 Squad members (7), it looks like Hong Kong hockey has a strong future. Another record, is that (4) Hong Kong ethnic Chinese players have made the grade, signally a turning point in the growth of local interest.
Other notable points are; that the long tradition of the Ali brothers dominating the team, has ended, with Asif Ali dropped, and Akbar withdrawing due to a serious back-neck injury, from a motor accident, last year. Defender, Akbar Ali is still a chance to be added later, if he responds to treatment, however one Doctor has advised him that the injury may end his hockey career.
With AHA's (Asia Hockey Federation) revision of eligibility rules, the way in now clear for local expats to play for Hong Kong and dramatically strengthen the squad. Former New Zealand Junior, Brad Munt will make his debut for his newly chosen allegiance, Hong Kong. He will undoubtedly give some muscle to the defence and central mid-field. Munt commented, from his full-time position as Hockey Development Manager, at HKFC; 'I look forward to the challenge ahead, and playing in one of the World's best stadiums, Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. I guess we will play in front of 10000, when we play Malaysia!'
HKFC has 5 players in the squad, including debutant, 22 year old-Hong Kong born Englishman, Will Budden. Budden trialled for England Juniors at a left wing in 1999, and has chosen Hong Kong, ahead of British opportunities. Former Hong Kong (1998 Asian Games) and HKFC player Jerome Goudie, played in the Sydney Olympics for Great Britain and is now a regular in the England team, perhaps showing the level of what top Hong Kong born, and coached players can achieve. Also, Hong Kong born, former Oxford University player, Tom Ayers returns to the squad after a long period of sickness and injury.
The Asian Games leading goal scorer Farooq Saeed, is the only player from the much improved Holland Cup finalists, Pakistan Association, and will again take up the prized Captaincy.
Coach Mark Bailey has set high goals for the Asia Cup which features; Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. We are aiming to finish in the top 6 or 7, and avoid having to Qualify through the AHF Cup level again. 'A win over China or Japan, on Hong Kong TV would be great for Hong Kong people, right now.'
Television negotiations, to bring key matches live, such as India VS. Pakistan, and Hong Kong VS. China, etc, have begun for the September event. Tour packages for supporters will be available and offered through the HKHA web-site and our new official travel agency. www.hockey.org.hk
The full Squad is:
Jason Man (SSSC Bullets)
Gurcharan Singh (U21)
Farooq Saeed (Pakistan Assoc.)
Akbar Ali (Shaheen)
Satpal Singh (SSSC Bullets & U21)
Alfonso Cordero (Shaheen)
Tom Ayers (HKFC)
Brad Munt (HKFC, Canterbury NZ)
Chris Marshall (HKFC)
Will Budden (HKFC)
Gurvinder Dillon (HKFC)
Arif Ali (KCC and RMR Malaysia MHL)
Jasbir Singh (KCC)
Ashgar Ali (Shaheen)
Paul Chima (KCC & U21)
Swalik Mohammed (Shaheen)
Harinder Singh (KCC)
Navbir Singh ( SSSCBullets & U21)
Jatinder Singh (SSSC Bullets & U21)
Ng Siu Bong (Elite)
Mohair Singh (U21)
Ishtiaq Khan (Shaheen)
Mandeep Singh (SSSC Bullets & U21)
Simon Kwong Cho Yan (144 United)