Chennai: Against the background of the abysmal show at Doha, domestic hockey gets into focus with the start of the annual MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup tournament on Sunday at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.
As in the previous years, the tournament committee has managed to rope in teams for the 12-team competition. The major attraction will be the Namdhari XI, which finished in the last four at the recent National in Jalandhar. The Army XI defends the cup.
Welcoming the gathering at a media briefing on the features of the tournament, K. Prem Kumar, President, Madras Cricket Club, noted how the event had always provided an "extraordinary fare." He announced that MCC would institute a trophy, a cash award of Rs. 10,000 and a bicycle for the Player of the Tournament named after the late A. L. Lakshmanan who was instrumental in starting the tournament in 1962.
On behalf of the sponsor, the Murugappa Group, Arun Murugappan, Vice-President, Parry Enterprises Ltd, outlined the growth of the event into a top-rated competition. He pointed out the efforts taken to popularise the event this time through various modes like posters and public address system in various parts of the city.
Rajiv Reddy, organising secretary, touched upon the efforts taken to get the best outfits in keeping with the stature of the tournament, which will be played under floodlights.
The 12 teams in the fray are divided into four groups of three each with the top two making it to the semifinals, which will be played on December 23. The final will be played on December 25.
Former Olympian, Muneer Sait is the tournament director. Satinder Sharma, Vir Bahadur Singh, and Pradhan Cariappa are the outstation umpires.
The winner will get a prize money of Rs. 1,30,000 and the runner-up Rs. 80,000. The Man of the Match prizes will be awarded from the quarterfinals.
MCC posts win
Meanwhile, in the traditional match on the eve of the tournament proper held under floodlights at the Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium, host MCC defeated The Hindu 2-1. The Hindu had taken the lead with an early goal through Md. Ashraff. In the second half international Md. Riyaz scored twice to help MCC to a win.
Pool A: IHF Development, BPCL, and Mumbai XI; Pool B: IOC, Tamil Nadu XI, Army Green, Dhanapur; Pool C: Namdhari XI, Indian Railways, Air India; Pool D: Army XI, Indian Airlines and Karnataka XI.