Hong Kong (20 Nov, 2016): Sri Lanka started their campaign in the 5th Men’s AHF Cup with a massive 7-2 win over Uzbekistan at the King’s Park Hockey Stadium in Hong Kong on Sunday.
In another Group B match, Singapore’s newly-appointed head coach K. Rajan’s celebrated a 2-1 victory over Thailand in this opening encounter. It was a major boost for the young Singaporean side in their preparation for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Veteran player and forward Sadaruvan Priyalanka nailed a hat-trick while Shamika Gunawardhana fired a brace, Dinesh Wijeshsinghe and Lahiru Panthie scored a piece each. The Sri Lankans led 3-1 by the interval.
The Uzbeks replied through Gaybullo Khaytboev via a penalty corner in the 35th minute and Okhunjon Mirzakarimov with a field goal two minutes into the final hooter.
The Singaporeans started the goal rush against the Thais with a 17th minute field goal from Mohd Fazri Mohd Jailani and Johari Ahmad made it 2-0 a minute after the start of the second half. Seksit Samoechai reduced the deficit for the Thais towards the end of the third quarter.
All Group B matches will resume on Tuesday (Nov 22) with Thailand taking on Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka meets Singapore.
In Monday’s Group A encounters, Bangladesh, who defeated Hong Kong 4-2 in Saturday’s opening match, faces an exciting tie against Chinese Taipei while Hong Kong takes on Macau in a match the hosts needs to win badly to stay in contention for a medal-finish.
Chinese Taipei also made a brilliant start on Saturday by defeating Macau 2-0 with goals from Li An-Szu (33rd minute) and Chang Chia-Ming in the 41st minute via penalty corner.
Bangladesh won the coveted AHF Cup in 2008 (Singapore) and 2012 (Thailand) since the tournament was introduced in 1997. And a third straight title would give Bangladesh direct entry into next year’s Asia Cup.
Since its inception in 1997, the AHF Cup serves as a qualifier for the elite Asia Cup where the top four teams of the AHF Cup will be eligible to challenge amongst the first-tier of Asian hockey nations.