New Delhi, July 30:  Hockey India (HI) president Dilip Tirkey feels that Hero Asian Champions Trophy scheduled to be played in Chennai from 3rd to 12th August is very crucial for the national teams ahead of the all-important Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled later this year. 

“The Asian Champions Trophy is a very important tournament in the AHF calendar. Everyone knows what is at stake here. I wish all the teams the very best, particularly the Indian team. I wish the players the best of luck and I hope they put up a fighting performance.” he said

India had won the 2007 Asia Cup held in Chennai and in that7-2 victory over South Korea in the final, Tirkey had played a crucial role.

In the final episode of Hockey India's  ‘Chennai Chronicles Series’,  Dilip Tirkey took a trip down memory lane saying, “When we used to play in Chennai, I remember that the city was known for organizing several domestic, national and international events. During the 2007 Asia Cup, when we lifted the trophy, it was a surreal feeling. The fans in Chennai love hockey and are extremely passionate about it." 

"But for some reason, over the last few years there have been no international matches there. Now, we are again looking to organize tournaments in the states where hockey tournaments used to happen earlier, as to revive hockey there and where the fans will come in huge numbers. This will help us popularise the game going forward.” he said

Talking about his playing days in Chennai, he said the win in 2007 and playing in front of the home crowd, encouraged the team’s reawakening at an international level.  “I remember on the day of the Final, it was raining very heavily but the fans didn’t leave the stadium. They were fully behind us, cheering and supporting us. I have always felt that fans in Chennai are just as passionate as fans in Odisha. The image of all those fans sitting there with their umbrellas is still fresh in my mind. I am excited that after 16 long years, the Indian team going to play at the same iconic Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.”

Meanwhile, the Malaysian team arrived in Chennai, on Saturday to participate in the tournament ..As one of Asia's hockey powerhouses, Malaysia has consistently showcased remarkable skills and determination on the field. They have finished third five times in the history of the tournament. 

They won the Silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang and also finished runners-up in last year's Hero Asia Cup in Jakarta. The Malaysian Team will go up against Japan, Korea, Pakistan, China, and hosts India during the course of the tournament,   

Malaysia will open their campaign against Pakistan on 3rd August.  As per the tournament format, all six teams will each play five matches in the round-robin stage before the top four teams move into the semifinals. 

“I’m happy and excited to be back again in India. Our preparations for the Asian Champions Trophy are on the right track and we are aiming to give our best in the tournament.” commented Malaysia Captain Marhan Jalil. 

Meanwhile, Malaysia Coach Arul Anthoni talked about his team’s recent performance and their new structure of play and said, “We came up with a new structure of play and did very well in our recent games. The players adapted to new strategies under Marhan’s leadership. I was very happy with their performance and hope they replicate the same in the Asian Champions Trophy.”

He kept his cards close to his chest when asked about his new style of play and tactics going into the tournament saying, “You’ll have to watch us play to know our new strategies.” 

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