The second event in the inaugural Hockey Series Open will spring into action on Saturday as Singapore hosts six men’s and six women’s teams at the Seng Kang Sports Club between 23 June and 1 July.
The teams taking part are at the start of an exciting journey towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with 15 nations from the Hockey Series Open events qualifying for next year’s Hockey Series Finals. FIH Hero World Ranking points will also be on offer which could prove vital in respect of qualification for future events.
The women’s teams taking part are: Malaysia (FIH Hero World Ranking: 22); Thailand (WR: 28); Kazakhstan (WR: 34); host nation Singapore (WR: 35); Hong Kong (WR:43) and Indonesia (65).
Malaysia will be favourites for the title, particularly as they have experienced top class international action at the 2017 FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Brussels and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. On both occasions, the Asian team acquitted themselves well when facing much higher ranked opposition, with Head Coach Dhaarma Raj saying that his players were going through a huge learning curve every time they played. The squad is also hugely experienced in international fixtures – only five players in the squad have fewer than 30 caps.
Kazakhstan and Thailand will both be looking to fill one of the two qualification spots after good performances in the 2017 Asia Cup. Thailand have bragging rights but only after a narrow 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan in the pool matches of that event.
The men’s competition features several teams who are only just stepping onto the global stage. Singapore has the highest FIH Hero World Ranking at 40. Hong Kong is ranked 45 and these two teams are joined by Thailand (WR: 47), Chinese Taipei (WR: 52), Myanmar (WR: 89) and Indonesia, who are currently unranked.
Top ranked team Singapore will have the advantage of a home crowd and Head Coach Rajan Krishnan will be looking for his captain Ferdaus Zul’Kepli, and star player Silas Shah Noor to lead the way as two of the most experienced players in the team.
Thailand will aim for a good showing after they finished a highly creditable fourth at the Men’s Asian Games Qualifier in Oman in March this year. The Thailand side finished ahead of Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, so will have high hopes of a strong showing in Singapore.
However, Hong Kong have two not-so-secret weapons in their side. Tsang Kin Kan and Iu Felix Chi Him are both sharp in front of goal. Tsang Kin Kan is deadly accurate with his penalty corner strikes, while Iu Felix Chi Him has proven himself an opportunistic striker who scores given half a chance.
The largely unknown quantities of Myanmar and Indonesia will be looking to spring an element of surprise on their opponents. Myanmar is fielding a side with a number of older players, with six players in their 30s. This is a similar team to the one that held Singapore to a 2-2 draw in the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, although Head Coach Htun Htun Oo is also fielding four players who will be making their international debut.
While the Indonesian men’s team are unranked, they will have ambitions to show how much they have developed over the past few seasons, especially with the prospect of hosting the Asian Games, a Tokyo 2020 qualifier, later this year.
The Hockey Series Open provides opportunities for the lower ranked or unranked nations to push ahead with their development by giving them the opportunity to take their place on the global hockey stage.