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The UAE’s ice hockey team swept their way to the Gulf Cup title last week in Doha, winning every game without conceding a point.

They have now won all four stagings of the tournament while the Emirati defender Mohammed Al Shamsi bagged the MVP award and Ahmed Al Dhaheri the Best Goalkeeper.

The UAE got the better of hosts Qatar 5-0 in the final, and Kuwait, the losing finalists in the previous three championships, edged out Oman 5-4 in the play-off for third.

The national team coach Christophe Kovago is already looking ahead to the next challenge when they host the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in Abu Dhabi from March 12 to 18. They will take on Chinese Taipei, Mongolia, Thailand, Kuwait and Singapore.

“Winning the regional title was a good result and for sure will do a world of good to the confidence of the players,” he said.

“But this wasn’t unexpected. The bigger task will be to prepare for the continental championship and that’s a big step up from the regional event.

“We made a lot of mistakes at the regional championship and now have a lot of grey areas to work on. This is what we intend to do in the lead-up to the Asian Challenge Cup.”

The UAE topped the league round defeating Qatar 10-0, Oman 8-0 and Kuwait 7-0 before a 5-0 result over Oman in the semi-final.

“The success we have had in the regional championship is the result of the continued development work of our federation in collaboration with the IIHF [International Ice Hockey Federation],” said Khaled Al Qubaisi, the former UAE goalkeeper and now the team manager.

“The players deserve praise for their excellent performance in winning the Gulf Cup.

“Of course the UAE are placed much higher than the rest of the Gulf sides but winning any competition so convincingly, as they have done in Doha, is credit to the players and the technical staff.

“We are also aware that the other Gulf teams have their own development programmes and we could see that from the results. Kuwait were second best in the region for a long time and they were beaten by Qatar for second place for the first time in this competition.

“Anyway, the Gulf Cup provided us with a good idea of what needs to be done ahead of the continental championship.

“The focus from now on would be on our preparation for this championship and then the World Cup Division III in Turkey from March 31 to April 9.”

 

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Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice. 
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