Bangladesh recalled the memory of the 1985 Hockey Asia Cup, ahead of the tournament's latest edition, which is all set to return to Dhaka this month after a span of 32 years.
Ahead of the 10th Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in the capital's Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium from Wednesday to October 22, Bangladesh Sports Journalists Association hosted a seminar titled “Asia Cup and Bangladesh's Hockey” at the Bangladesh Olympic Association auditorium Wednesday.
The speakers at the seminar, including 1985 hockey team members, federation officials and organisers not only talked about the current state of Bangladesh hockey and its future but also went down memory lane as far back as 1985 where the host finished sixth among the top 10 Asian countries in what was the tournament’s second edition.
Back then in the 1970s and 80s, hockey was one of the country's most popular sports after football.
In 1985, Bangladesh were placed in Group A along with the then champion Pakistan, Japan, China and Iran.
They kicked off their campaign brilliantly with a 3-1 win over Iran with Jumman Lusai netting a hat-trick in the opening half.
They went on to draw against Japan (1-1) and China (2-2) before conceding a hard-fought 1-0 loss against Pakistan, who emerged as the champion in the first two editions with 100% winning record.
Bangladesh finished the tournament ahead of China, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Iran.
After 32 long years in 2017, Bangladesh have set their target among the top six.
“Before the 1985 Asia Cup in Dhaka, we didn’t have the confidence to do well in the tournament. But we put a good and fighting show throughout the tournament. From the first match against Iran to the last match, we carried out in the same fashion," said Daily Ittefaq sports editor Motaher Hossain Masum while reading out his article at the seminar.
“[Jamail Parvez] Lulu burst into tears after losing narrowly against Pakistan. It was a sign that we suffered defeat against the champion team, despite playing good hockey,” said 1985 hockey team captain Shahabuddin Chaklader.
“Hockey was different that time. Nowadays the players are not bad but they lack the perfect international exposure in comparison with the other competitors. There is also a lack of modern facilities.
“I believe the boys will play better hockey this time too and the first match against Pakistan is important for them,” he added.
Bangladesh Hockey Federation general secretary and former national skipper Abdus Sadeque emphasised upon the importance of grooming quality players.
“We have quality players but the numbers are very few and we have to groom new players at the grassroot level,” said Sadeque.
“We could not capitalise on the craze of the 1985 Asia Cup but this time we have to cash in on the opportunity after utilising the infrastructure currently being developed for the Asia Cup,” he added.
The hardworking midfielder of the 1985 side Lulu felt the need of a proper plan to take the game forward.
“South Korea conceded a 9-0 defeat against Pakistan in the Dhaka edition of the Asia Cup but two years later, they became champion beating Pakistan. They made a plan and implemented it with hard work, Bangladesh can also follow suit,” said Lulu.
Former national skipper Mamunur Rashid said the Asia Cup will provide three gifts to Bangladesh.
“Firstly Bangladesh will prove its efficiency as an organiser, secondly we will have a modern flood-lit stadium and finally, we will see where we have to work to develop the national team, the Asia Cup is a blessing for us” said Mamunur.
Hockey organisers Yousuf Ali, Kamrul Islam Kismat and Rafiqul Islam Kamal, journalist Dilu Khandokar, BSJA president Syed Saidur Rahman Shamim and general secretary Junaid Hossain also spoke on the occasion.