Muscat, October 20: Oman’s hockey team is relishing the opportunity to play against top sides on home turf during the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018, says coach Tahir Zaman.
“Oman’s players have the potential to stand up against top sides. They just need to keep focus and mentally brace for the challenge,” says Zaman, a former Pakistan captain. Oman gave Asian Games silver medallists Malaysia a tough contest on Friday night, keeping the score level 1-1 before defensive lapses conceded two goals in the last quarter.
Zaman asserts that Oman’s 1-3 loss to Malaysia came after giving the higher ranked rivals a stiff challenge. “The boys kept their heads high even after conceding the goals and that has the making of tough sportsmen,” said Zaman.
Zaman said the ongoing Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 has provided Oman’s team a fantastic opportunity to compete against so many leading international teams in front of Oman’s hockey fraternity. “For the first time in their life, these boys are playing teams like India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan and Korea in one tournament. This is a great opportunity and will be a huge morale booster if we can stay competitive,” said Zaman. “The target is to show to that these players are not here to pass time, that we are enjoying our game and we mean business.”
“This is a big moment for hockey in Oman and the players know that have to showcase their mettle,” said Zaman, pleased to see his team quickly regroup after losing the opening game against India by 11 goals the previous day.
“The challenge is first this team to keep playing competitively. I was pleased to see them play like that within 24 hours of the big loss against India,” he said. “The boys had promised me that they will learn from their mistakes and not lose momentum when things get tough in the middle.”
“Players need to take hockey more seriously. They are doing a lot already, taking time off from work and studies to get together to practice,” said Zaman, whose team comprises entirely of amateur players.
After two tough games on successive days, the Omani players will get some rest before they return for the next preliminary league match against former champions Pakistan on Monday.