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Friday, August 4, 2023

Field Hockey is back again in Chennai - know the mascot for the games !

Do you know or remember the names of - Dilpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Shamsher Singh, Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh,  Simranjeet Singh  .. .. .. ..unlikely !

For the fans of Hockey – the game is back at Chennai at the newly furbished Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium -  the Asian Champions Trophy, which began  on Thursday, August 3 and will run till the 13th.

The 2023 Men's Asian Champions Trophy (officially known as The Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 for sponsorship reasons) is  the seventh edition of the Men's Asian Champions Trophy, a men's field hockey tournament for the six best Asian national teams organized by the Asian Hockey Federation.   Chennai  had earlier hosted 2007 Men's Hockey Asia Cup. Over the years, international hockey in India became exclusive to the state of Odisha with the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela hosting high profile matches, including two World Cups. The decision to give the tournament to Chennai, which last hosted an international tournament more than 15 years back, is indeed a welcome move in keeping up with the ideals of taking the sport to various parts of the country.

The Asian Champions Trophy comes right before the same teams head to China for the Asian Games, starting on September 23. Basically, all the teams will use the tournament as preparations for their Asian Games campaign, which is also a pathway to qualify for the Olympic Games. The gold medal winners in hockey at Asian Games automatically make it to the Paris Olympics 2024.  

All the top hockey nations in Asia will be in action in Chennai, including Pakistan. In total, six national teams have been clubbed into one pool and they will play each other in a single round-robin format. The top four teams will progress to the semifinals while the remaining two teams will play a playoff match for the fifth/sixth spot.

On day 1 -  India swept aside China in their opening game of the Asian Champions Trophy men's hockey tournament in Chennai.  India's goals came from penalty corner dragflicks from Harmanpreet Singh (x2) and Varun Kumar (x2), a rebound from a saved PC by Sukhjeet Singh, a superb finish by Mandeep Singh off a PC-assist variation and pacy counterattack started and finished by Akashdeep Singh. In the fourth minute, local boy Selvam Karthi won a penalty corner (because his defender was not far enough away as he trapped a long ball), and captain Harmanpreet blootered one low and hard past the goalkeeper.

Less than three minutes later, veteran Manpreet Singh drove into the circle and got stick-checked. Again, Harmanpreet stepped up and smashed a dragflick to the left of the keeper. It was all India by this point and that's how it continued all quarter -  in the last minute of the quarter, India won another PC after a stick check on Karthi in the circle. Varun Kumar's initial flick was saved but as the rebound was hit back, Sukhjeet cleverly deflected it into the net through his legs, with his back to goal. 3-0 after Q1 and the crowd knew the game was done.  In the end it was 7-2 drubbing.   

The mascot for the tournament is ‘Bomman’ – the name taking  inspiration from the Oscar-winning documentary “The Elephant Whisperers,” in which Bomman cares for orphaned baby elephant Raghu along with Bellie – both belonging to indigenous tribes in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.

The men's field hockey tournament at the 2020 Summer Olympics was the 24th edition of the field hockey event for men at the Summer Olympic Games. Argentina won the previous Olympics but were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Belgium captured their first gold medal after defeating Australia in the final after penalties.  India won their first hockey medal (this time a bronze) since 1980 in Olympics – the team consisted of

India men's national field hockey team comprised of :  Dilpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Shamsher Singh, Manpreet Singh (C), Hardik Singh, Gurjant Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, P. R. Sreejesh, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas & Vivek Prasad

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Aug 2023. 

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