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Hockey: Cambodia ranking still low, but future looks bright

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodian women’s hockey team players with their counterparts from the Phnom Penh Hockey Club. PPHC

Cambodia is still close to the tail end among hockey-playing countries in Asia, the latest rankings released by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) shows.

The Cambodian women’s hockey team is in 14th place out of 15 countries in Asia that were included in the 2020 rankings. The Cambodians obtained a total of 60 points, putting them ahead of Indonesia, which is at the tail end with 54 points.

Despite ranking low, it is still surprising that Cambodia is ahead of Indonesia, a country with nearly 20 times more inhabitants than the Kingdom of 16 million people.

India produced the best women’s hockey team, with the South Asian country ranking first, followed by China, Korea, Japan and Malaysia, which has the top-ranked women players in Southeast Asia.

The other Southeast Asian countries that are ranked higher than Cambodia are Thailand (6th) and Singapore (8th). The Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei and Vietnam were not included in the women’s team rankings.

According to the AHF, the rankings are calculated over a four-year cycle. A team’s performance in various international hockey competitions, like the Asia Cup, factored prominently in the rankings.

Among the men’s teams, Cambodia is ranked 19th out of 20 countries. Cambodia is ranked just behind Kazakhstan and above tail-ender Myanmar.

India, once more, paces the region in men’s hockey, followed by Pakistan, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.

Despite its low ranking, Cambodia is seen as having strong potential of advancing farther in the rankings, with interest in the sport rising, especially among the young people. Cambodia’s performance in international hockey tournaments in the last few months is another good sign.

The Cambodian women’s team was close to winning a medal during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines. Cambodia drew its match against Singapore, before losing to host Philippines by one point. A win against the Philippines would have allowed the Kingdom to win at least a bronze medal in the SEA Games.

Before flying to the Philippines, the Cambodian team convincingly defeated a team of expats from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, the United States, Germany, Netherlands and other countries in a friendly match at the CIS Roller Dome in Koh Pich.

While training in Thailand for the SEA Games, the Cambodian team also beat a visiting team from Karachi, Pakistan and drew with a team from Saraburi, Thailand. Pakistan and Thailand are both hockey powerhouses in Asia.

The Cambodian women team is scheduled to participate in the AHF Women’s Hockey Cup, which will be held in Uzbekistan in September 2020.

Asif Maqsood Rana, the founder of hockey in Cambodia and head coach of the national team, earlier said that Cambodia is ready to face the best in the region.

The Cambodia Hockey Federation’s efforts to promote and develop hockey in the Kingdom are being supplemented by the Phnom Penh Hockey Club (PPHC) and various organisations, including Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, or PSE.

The PPHC has organised several hockey tournaments in the past and is also holding regular training sessions. However, the trainings, which have been held twice a week, were temporarily suspended because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

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