HK squad face an uphill task in Asia Cup
With only one practice hit-out against the Hong Kong women's team under their belts, an underdone and inexperienced men's hockey squad leave today for Chennai to take part in the men's Asia Cup, which starts on Friday.
'We are lacking match practice. We have had no warm-up games at all apart from playing against the women's team. They have been our only opponents and it has been a less than ideal way to prepare for this important tournament,' said Hong Kong captain Akbar Ali.
Understandably, Ali, 31, is worried. For the first time in almost 15 years, he will be missing his brothers Asghar, 35, and Asif, 30. The latter is still recovering from a broken ankle suffered last December at the Asian Games in Doha, while star striker Asghar is unavailable due to work.
'We are missing a number of experienced players. At least half the team which played at the Asian Games is missing and most of the newcomers have never played against international teams,' said Akbar. In all, eight of the 18-strong squad will be making their debut.
Hong Kong is pooled with Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The other pool comprises India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, China and Bangladesh. Hong Kong's first game will be against Pakistan on Friday.