UAE wins 2009 Challenge Cup of Asia
Posted by simon c on 2009 March 30日 Monday
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After last year’s inaugural tournament in Hong Kong, the 2009 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia was hosted and won by the United Arab Emirates.
The United Arab Emirates was eager to host the tournament in their capital where it was up to 38°C (100°F) outside and made it a successful event for the Asian teams that do not compete in the World Championship program.
The last two games for gold and bronze were broadcast live and one of the highest Sheikhs – the National Security Advisor and the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, His Highness Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan – was in attendance for the Emirate’s gold medal win.
The United Arab Emirates, coached by Serb Marko Zidarevic, won its group by beating Macau (7-0), Singapore (4-2) and Hong Kong (5-1) before downing Malaysia 3-1 in the semi-final.
Thailand was undefeated in its group against India (14-0), Malaysia (8-2) and Mongolia (5-3), and also won its semi-final game, 6-4 against Hong Kong.
It all came down to the group winners. After a scoreless beginning, Arthit Thamwongsin opened the scoring for Thailand in the second period but it finished with a 3-2 lead for the Emirates. Thailand equalized in the last stanza but the Emirates scored two more times to win the game 5-3. Juma Mohamed al Dhaheri was their hero with a hat trick, his second of the tournament.
Didn’t think the hosts had it in them to pull it off against both Thailand and Malaysia, and a great job in hosting the tournament as well! Hopefully the competition will expand in the future with Taiwan rejoining the fray and new entrants from the Middle East as well. Here’s also an interesting blog by a Malaysian player who participated in the tournament.