Organisers and former hockey players hoped that hosts Bangladesh will put up a good show in the upcoming Hero Asia Cup, like they did 32 years ago when the continental tournament was first held in Dhaka.
The expectation came out during a seminar titled 'Asia Cup and Bangladesh's hockey', organised by Bangladesh Sports Journalists Association (BSJA), where members of the national team of 1985 Asia Cup, officials of Bangladesh Hockey Federation, umpires and former national players discussed various issues including hockey's glorious past, current state and things to do to take the game forward.
The discussion was preceded by a keynote speech by Daily Ittefaq's sports editor Motaher Hossain Masum.
“Ahead of the 1985 Asia Cup in Dhaka we didn't have the confidence to do well, but we put up a fighting show throughout the tournament after getting off to a good start against Iran. We carried the first impression right into the last match,” the team's captain Shahabuddin Chaklader said at the seminar.
“I still remember [Jamail Parvez] Lulu burst into tears after losing 1-0 against Pakistan. We lost that match despite playing very well against a very strong Pakistan side. I believe the current team will play well and the first match against Pakistan is important for them.”
BHF general secretary Abdus Sadeque said that age-group teams have been producing good results at international tournaments but the senior team can't do the same as the rules of the game are altered frequently.
“We have some organisational weaknesses and we are trying to overcome those. We have a shortage of quality players as well as organisers,” Saqeque said. “We could not capitalise on the craze of the 1985 Asia Cup but this time we have to cash in by using the infrastructures that are being developed for this tournament.”
Jamail Parvez Lulu, former national player and a member of the 1985 squad, urged organisers to come under one umbrella by forgetting all conflicts and concentrate on the development of hockey.
“I remember South Korea suffered a 0-9 defeat to Pakistan, but in the following year they became champions in a tournament by beating Pakistan. It was only possible because of their organisational capacity. So we need to make a long-term plan and execute it properly, forgetting the conflicts among the organisers,” said Lulu.
Mamunur Rashid, former national captain, believes the stage is set for the players to become heroes as they will be playing at their home ground and in front of their own people.
“If Bangladesh regain sixth place among eight teams, it will be a big achievement as they are participating as the eighth-ranked side in the competition,” Mamun said, emphasising on the need to regularise all Dhaka and district based leagues in a bid to increasing the number of players.
Kamrul Islam Kismat, Rafiqul Islam Kamal, organiser Yousuf Ali, journalist Dilu Khandokar, BSJA president Syed Saidur Rahman Shamim and general secretary Junate Hossain also spoke on the occasion.