UAE, Chinese Taipei the favourites in IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Abu Dhabi

UAE, Chinese Taipei the favourites in IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Abu Dhabi

12 Mar 2016 | Amith Passela - The National

The most important tournament in Asia begins today


The UAE and defending champions Chinese Taipei, the two favourites to win the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in ice hockey, will face off in the last game of the competition, which starts in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The ninth staging of the continental championship, which is a round-robin format, will take place at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink and runs until Friday.

“Going by the statistics we would like to think our game against Chinese Taipei will be a potential final," said Juma Al Dhaheri, the UAE captain. “But having said that, we will not take any team for granted. If we do, it would be a disaster. I think no team would want to take their opponents lightly.

“It’s a new competition after a year and a lot may have changed since we met in the same championship last year."

The UAE face Thailand in the opener in the five-nation competition that also includes Singapore and Mongolia.

“We have been playing a lot of hockey as it is our end of the domestic season," said Al Dhaheri. “We had a two-week camp and just two practice games against local teams. And for the first time in a long time we go for an international competition with a full squad at our disposal."

The UAE won the title for the first time when it was staged at the same venue in 2009 and regained the title in 2011 in India. They were runners-up twice to Chinese Taipei when it was hosted in Abu Dhabi in 2014 and in Taipei City last year.

“They (Chinese Taipei) have the best record in the tournament having won the title five times in eight years," said Al Dhaheri. “We are not very far behind them. We have won it twice and been the runners-up four times. That’s a pretty good record as well. Obviously Taipei will be the team to beat and we are quite confident in our own backyard."

The five teams will play in a round-robin league and the team with the highest points will be the winner. In the case of a tie between the two teams, the winner will be decided on the head-to-head record.

Schedule (local time)

Saturday:4.30pm: Singapore v Mongolia; 8pm: UAE v Thailand

Sunday:4.30pm: Chinese Taipei v Thailand; 8pm: UAE v Singapore

Tuesday:4.30pm: Singapore v Chinese Taipei; 8pm: UAE v Mongolia

Wednesday:4.30pm: Thailand v Singapore; 8pm: Mongolia v Chinese Taipei

Friday:4.3pm: Mongolia v Thailand; 8pm: UAE v Chinese Taipei​

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