Hosts take on Taipei today
Bangladesh are looking forward to fine tuning the side for the final of the 4th U-18 Asia Cup Hockey Tournament when they square off against lowly Chinese Taipei in the first semifinal at the Maulna Bhasani Hockey Stadium today.
The gulf of difference between the two sides was evident from Bangladesh's 8-1 thrashing of the same opposition in a warm-up match before the tournament, which is why the hosts are having their eyes on the final.
“Though we always think about going step by step, we are at the moment thinking both about the semifinal and the final,” Bangladesh coach Kawsar Ali said ahead of the semifinal. “While we are keeping a close eye on who might be our opponents in the final if we win, we are also focused on tomorrow's semifinal against Chinese Taipei. We don't want to consider whatever happened in the warm-up match as Chinese Taipei have improved much after playing three pool matches.”
“It is a very important match for us because we are one match away from the final. If we perform poorly and lose the match, our target of playing the final won't be realised. So we are serious like the first match,” said penalty corner specialist Ashraful Islam.
While the first semifinal is expected to be a one-way traffic, the second one promises a mouth-watering battle between archrivals India and Pakistan, with the current political context providing extra fuel to fire.
“We know Pakistan are a good side who have been preparing for two months and they have remained unbeaten in pool matches. But we have our own plans and we expect the match to be a nice and healthy competition,” said India coach BJ Kariappa, who said there won't be any impact of the ongoing political tension between two nations on the pitch.
“We will have to play our best. Pool matches are now past. I don't put India ahead of us because I think both teams are equal in strength and playing good hockey depends on the day. I know India will come strong on us but we are also ready for the challenge,” said Pakistan coach Kamran Ashraf.