Saturday, July 7, 2018
KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) are still waiting for Indonesia to confirm the number of entries in the men's and women's tournaments before they can release groupings.
With 40 days to the start on Aug 18, the organisers have yet to confirm entries for hockey: "We are waiting for the organising committee to confirm the number of entries, and only after that can we sort out the groupings as well as the fixtures for men's and women's hockey," said AHF CEO Datuk Tayyab Ikram of Macau (pic).
Malaysia's chances at the Games all depend on the grouping, and going by current ranking, coach Stephen van Huizen's men can expect to play against Pakistan and China and could miss meeting South Korea and India at the group stage.
And if this happens, Malaysia's chances of making the semi-finals look bright.
In the men's tournament, the qualifiers are hosts Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Oman, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan.
And there are only 10 teams in the women's event and they are hosts Indonesia, South Korea, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Kazakhstan.
"The Games will showcase the best of Asian hockey because at stake is a ticket to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo," said Tayyab.
Only the men's and women's gold medallists advance to Olympics, while the rest will play in another qualifier.
"For teams which do not qualify for the Olympics, the Games will be a very good avenue to prepare for the Asian Champions Trophy (In Muscat, on Oct 18-28) and also the World Cup in India," said Tayyab.
Malaysia India, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and Oman will play in the ACT, while the Asian World Cup qualifiers are India, Malaysia, Pakistan and China.
"At the recent Champions Trophy, silver medallists India and Pakistan played very well and I believe Asian teams are making a strong comeback against higher ranked teams.
"And I hope the second tier of Asia will also use the Asian Games to improve and popularise the sport in their respective countries, expecially hosts Indonesia," said the Asian CEO.