Hockey crisis averted

A file photo of a match between Ahli-Sidab and Al Nasr during the 2016 Oman Hockey League at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (Muscat Daily)

A crisis that threatened to hit Oman hockey was averted with former multiple champion and powerhouse, Ahli-Sidab, withdrawing its threat to pull out of the 2017 Oman Hockey League (OHL) that began last week. 

Weeks after the infamous umpire assault incident, which took place during the Super Cup on the sidelines of the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Congress, Ahli-Sidab players failed to turn up for their opening domestic league match against Sohar on April 10. Oman Hockey Association (OHA) vice-chairman Mohammed al Amri confirmed to Muscat Daily that Ahli-Sidab had failed to turn up for its opener against Sohar, citing ‘problems between the players and the club management’.

Amri

Mohammed al Amri

But the crisis that would have left the OHL with just five clubs, had Ahli-Sidab gone ahead with the boycott, was avoided after the club management and the players resolved the issue ahead of the club's second match in Salalah against Al Ittihad on Friday. The team flew down to Salalah and won its match convincingly 6-0.

Hockey is one of the oldest sports played and followed in Oman and there was a time when the domestic league and the His Majesty's Cup would witness intense competition among ten to 12 popular clubs.

Of late, though, there has been a drastic fall in the clubs' participation in the league, an issue that has been bothering the national governing body.

With Seeb Club slapped with a season-long ban after its players allegedly attacked an umpire during the Super Cup match against Al Nasr on March 30 in Muscat, and Bausher Club also making the team unavailable for the league this year, the association is now left with just six clubs to play in the domestic league.

Four of them - defending champion Al Nasr, Dhofar, Salalah and Al Ittihad - are from the Dhofar region, while Sohar hails from the Batinah region. Ahli-Sidab is the only club from Muscat, a region that had maximum teams participating in the past.

With Ahli-Sidab’s late decision to enter the fray, Oman hockey has been saved from an embarrassing situation of not featuring any Muscat-based clubs in the premier tournament.

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