(MENAFN-Khaleej Times) The UAE will be looking for a third title in their backyard when they play host to the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia from March 16 to 22
Juma M. Al Dhaheri, Dr. Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrui and Talal Al Hashimi during the Press conference at the Ice Rink-Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. — KT photo by Nezar Balout
Abu Dhabi will host the competition and it will be held at the Ice Rink of the Zayed Sports City. The event is being organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC).
The UAE had won the 2nd Asian Ice Hockey Championship at home, back in 2009 and later won the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia in 2012, in Dehradun, India. The UAE had last played host to the 2012 World Men III Division Ice Hockey Qualification. They had qualified for the 2013 IIHF World Championship Division III held in Cape Town, South Africa, for the first time.
The hosts hopes rest on their impressive and long-serving captain Juma Mohammed Al Dhaheri as they take on defending champins Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia and Kuwait.
“It is vital that we win because we are playing at home and in front of our fans. Winning at home will help the sport grow and make more people follow Ice Hockey,” Juma Mohammed Al Dhaheri said. Juma Mohammed Al Dhaheri said that the team had prepared well for the competition by taking part in the local league, which has expats from Canada, the USA and Europe.
“We training well over the last two months. The level of the local league is very high. There are a lot of good expat players playing in the local league. So, it was a good run and experience for all of us. We are now ready for the challenge,” he said. Mohammad Arif Al Jachi, UAE Ice Hockey Federation’s technical director and player said that weeding out the weaker teams has helped make the competition a lot more stronger.
“Usually, it is a 10-12 team tournament but the presence of some weak teams was hurting the game. So, we now have two competitions which is for the top teams and a tournament for the developing teams. This has made it more competitive,” Mohammad Arif Al Jachi, said.
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