UAE face Hong Kong challenge in IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division 3
Six-team tournament, also including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand, to commence on Saturday
UAE face a tough opener against Hong Kong in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division 3 qualifier which gets under way at Zayed Sports City Ice Rink in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Having been relegated from Division 2 last year, Hong Kong will aim to take their first step towards returning to the top tier. For this, they will need to top the six-team competition which also includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, and debutants Kyrgyzstan and Thailand.
In the early matches on Sunday, Bosnia and Herzegovina play Thailand at noon followed by Kyrgyzstan versus Kuwait at 4pm. The round-robin competition concludes on Wednesday.
The UAE were the first Arab nation to compete in the IIHF World Championship, making their debut in 2010 when they finished bottom of Group A behind Ireland, Luxembourg and Greece.
They are ranked No 47 in the world - two below Hong Kong - and captain Juma Al Dhaheri believes they have come a long way to become competitive at this level.
“The game has grown tremendously over the years and we are well prepared to the challenges ahead,” Al Dhaheri said.
“We have won the regional and continental titles, and we have competed regularly in the World Championship Division 3. We now have the experience, and playing at home is also an advantage.”
The UAE have dominated the Arab Cup since it was first staged in 2008 and won the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, which they hosted in 2009.
Updated: March 30, 2019 03:55 PM