IRAN LOOK TO GAIN EXPERIENCE

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:39

Iran have prepared for the Junior Asia Cup by training on indoor pitches for the last six months.

But that did not stop them from feeling optimistic as they prepare to take on the might of Malaysia in their opening match at the MBM Stadium in Malacca  tomorrow (Thursday) night.

They made it to the AHF Junior Cup by virtue of finishing third in the second rung Junior Asia Cup that was held in Hong Kong last year.

Iran assembled their team for the past six months and have not played nor trained on an outdoor pitch but merely used the indoor facilities to prepare for this tournament.

But they are positive that hockey will eventually be accepted by more Iranians following their podium finish in Hong Kong.

“That has given hockey in Iran a tremendous boost but we still lack in terms of financial backing as sports like football have a huge following,” said Iran team manager Nader Foroutanian.

“We have a 16 team indoor league and use that and other regional tournaments to select players for the national team.

“Hopefully things will get better and we hope for a decent outing in the tournament here to help our cause.”

Iran does not have any artificial pitch although two are being constructed in the cities of Tabriz and Kermanshah.

And they have been hard at training in Malacca, getting valuable experience playing on an artificial pitch.

Aware of the fact that their opponents Malaysia, Korea and Japan have a rich tradition and history in hockey, Nader said that they were unperturbed.

“We have come here to gain experience but that does not mean that we will be easy pushovers,” added Nader.

“Though Malaysia is a class above, we will give them a fight. It is not about losing but giving your best on the pitch. And that is what we intend to do against Malaysia.”

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