The UAE’s ice hockey captain is confident the UAE are in with a chance of coming away with a medal at the seventh Asian Winter Games in Almaty.
Experience may pay for Juma al Dhaheri and UAE team
Juma al Dhaheri, the UAE’s ice hockey captain, is confident the UAE are in with a chance of coming away with a medal at the seventh Asian Winter Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which starts tomorrow.
Although the sport is still amateur in the Emirates, the team has been buoyed by the success of winning the Challenge Cup of Asia two years ago on home ice, while gaining valuable experience from playing against more established nations at the World Championship Division III in Luxembourg last year.
The chief playmaker from Al Ain hopes that the experienced gained over this period will come to fruit in Kazakhstan.
“We don’t play as much as some other countries but to play in the World Championship was a new experience as well as an achievement on our record,” al Dhaheri said.
“We will try to convert all this experience to win a medal at the Asian Winter Games.”
The UAE are pitted against Qatar and India in Group A of Division II. The other teams in fray are Kyrgyzstan, Thailand and Kuwait in Group B, and Malaysia, Bahrain and Mongolia in Group C.
The group winners and the second-placed team with the best record will advance to the semi-finals. Al Dhaheri is confident his team can go beyond the group stage.
“Malaysia and Thailand are the better teams, and we may have to meet them at some stage of the competition,” he said, who has played in the two previous Asian Winter Games in Hong Kong (1998) and China (2007).
“We have trained well as we did ahead of the Asian Challenge Cup and the World Championships in the past two years. We have four new players, all between 18 and 19. So there is new blood since the last two major competitions.”