Qatar to host Asian Champions Trophy hockey

Dubai: Qatar will host this year`s Asian Champions Trophy featuring India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea, China and Japan.

The Asian Hockey Federation is yet to finalise the dates of the event but local authorities hinted it could be held in November-December this year. "This is a huge boost for Qatar and for the sport of hockey here. Conducting a major event like this will certainly increase the popularity of the sport," Qatar Hockey Federation (QHF) Secretary General Mohamed Nazer Abdul said.

"With plenty of Asian expatriates in Qatar, you can expect a full house and if there is an India-Pakistan clash, the euphoria can cross all levels," he was quoted by `Gulf Times` as saying.

The matches will be held at Doha`s Al Rayyan Stadium where the 2006 Asian Games hockey tournament was held. The stadium, however, will require a face-lift as it has a seating capacity of only 1,500 but can be increased several fold with the help of temporary stands.

During the two Holland-Pakistan preparatory matches before the World Cup last year, the capacity was increased to 5,000, the report said. The blueprint for a full-fledged hockey stadium was ready but the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) put it on hold after the nation won the bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Authorities are now planning an upgrade of the entire Rayyan Football Stadium to which the hockey facility is attached.