The Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) is all set to host the second edition of the World Hockey League as the Round-1, featuring three teams, gets underway with the hosts taking on Sri Lanka on the opening day today at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium. Janata Bank, Sonali Bank and Rupali Bank are joint sponsors of the event, and have put up Tk 35 lakh.
Hong Kong is the other team in this group for the first of four rounds. The Round-1, featuring lower-ranked teams, will be held in nine venues across the world and the champions of each venue will advance to Round-2, the stage from which Bangladesh exited in the last edition.
This is only the second edition of the World Hockey League and in the first edition in 2012 Bangladesh emerged champions in Round-1 beating Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. They were impressive in the second round too as they beat Fiji, Oman and China but exited after losses to India and Ireland.
Nevertheless, the home side have kept their sights on the next round after emerging group champions but it will not be an easy task as they struggled against Sri Lanka to eke out a 2-2 draw before posting a 3-0 tiebreaker win over their sub-continent opponents during the Asian Games Qualifiers held in Dhaka last April.
Though Hong are ahead of Sri Lanka in the world rankings, in the same qualifiers in April Bangladesh had notched an easy 5-1 win over Hong Kong who had earlier suffered a 6-1 defeat to Bangladesh in the inaugural World Hockey League (Round-1) in 2012.
“During the Asian Games Qualifying tie, we took them lightly and were overconfident in our bid to post a big win and that attitude put us in problem but this time we are taking the Sri Lanka tie seriously and determined to stick to our plan and post a win,” said captain Mamunur Rahman Chayan at an official press briefing yesterday.
“The (3-match) series against India last month was a learning one and we want to implement what we have learnt from the India series in the World Hockey League and definitely we want to emerge champions to keep our position intact in the world hockey,” said Bangladesh's Pakistani coach Naveed Alam.
Naveed's counterpart, Pakistani Nadeem Ahmed Bhatt, is also hoping to take his side to Round-2 as well as prepare his charges for the upcoming Asian Games where Sri Lanka will be participating after 36 years.
“Obviously, this is going to be a sort of warm-up tournament for the Asian Games because Sri Lanka is going to take part in the Asian Games after 36 years,” said Pakistani Nadeem. “Secondly, this is going to be a journey to qualify for the World Cup as well as the Olympic qualifiers, so we are looking forward to qualify for the FIH League-2 which is scheduled in January in Singapore.”