Pakistan has welcomed Federation of International Hockey’s (FIH) decision to include more Asian sides in the upcoming men’s World Cup in India, APP has reported.
The top three sides in the Asia Cup will automatically qualify for the tournament.
“It is a very encouraging decision for the development of hockey in Asia as in the past only the winner of the Asia Cup had direct qualification into the World Cup. This will definitely make the Asia Cup more challenging and competitive with every participating team aiming to win a berth in the Cup,” Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Muhammad Asif Bajwa was quoted as saying by APP.
Bajwa believes that the FIH’s step will increase Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the tournament. “If you look at the our team’s previous record, it supports our claim of having a great chance to play in the World Cup but it does not mean that we should be content with our record and not aim to win the Asia Cup and emerge as the top-ranking team in Asia.”
The FIH had increased the quota of places available through Continental Championships from 6 (the five Continental Champions + the World Cup hosts) to 11 (including the World Cup hosts) and it will be filled based on the final rankings at the relevant 2021 Continental Championships.
According to the new quotas, four sides from Europe whereas three sides from Asia will feature in the competition, while one team each from Africa and the Americas is also certain to be there.
The tournament will be contested from January 13-29 in the Indian cities of Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.