Hosts eye hat-trick title and Kabaddi World Cup berth
With the eye on securing a place at the 2024 Kabaddi World Cup, Bangladesh have kept their sights on a hat-trick title of the Bangabandhu Cup International Kabaddi as the tournament gets underway at the Shaheed Noor Hossain National Volleyball Stadium on Monday.
A total of 12 teams from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, split into two groups, will be taking part in the tournament. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals and the top two Asian teams will earn a place at the 4th Kabaddi World Cup.
Bangladesh are pitted in Group A alongside Iraq, Nepal, England, Argentina and Poland, while Group B is composed of Kenya, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Chinese Taipei.
Although the Bangabandhu Cup International Kabaddi tournament is an invitational tournament of the Bangladesh Kabaddi Federation (BKF), International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) has recognized the tournament as the 2024 Kabaddi World Cup's qualifying tournament in Asia. Top two Asian nations among participating eight Asian nations will earn a ticket for the upcoming Kabaddi World Cup, which was held thrice in 2004, 2007, and 2016.
"As per the last meeting of International Kabaddi Federation, it has been decided that top four teams each from the last Kabaddi World Cup and Asian Games will directly play the 2024 Kabaddi World Cup while two teams from each continent will also earn their spot for the World Cup through different qualifying tournaments," said BKF general secretary and additional IGP Habibur Rahman yesterday during the trophy unveiling and introduction of the captains of participating 12 teams.
"IKF also recognized Bangabandhu Cup as Kabaddi World Cup's qualifying tournament from which two top Asian teams will qualify for the 2024 Kabaddi World Cup.
"To mark the 100th birthday of Bangabandhu, we organised the first Bangabandhu Cup kabaddi in 2021 with the participation of only five nations but we kept the tournament rolling in 2022 with the participation of eight teams. The third edition is now being held with the participation of 12 teams after getting the recognition from IKF as the Kabaddi World Cup's qualifying tournament," further informed Rahman, adding that India, Iran, Pakistan and South Korea did not take part in the tournament because they have already qualified for next Kabaddi World Cup.
As the captains of participating teams have pledged to put up their best while earning experience in Dhaka, Bangladesh captain Tuhin Tarafer vowed to keep the title home for the third time in a row.
"As our four senior players – Jakir, Ferdous, Robiul and Masud Karim – are not available due to their injuries, it is going to be challenging for us as two-time runners-up Kenya, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Thailand and Chinese Taipei are also strong contenders," Tuhin said.
"However, we don't want to be eliminated from the Kabaddi World Cup before participation, so our target is to qualify for the Kabaddi World Cup by keeping the title home for the third time."