Kuala Lumpur would play host to the biggest international kabaddi tournament ever conducted in South East Asia with more than more than 250 kabaddi players from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Norway and Malaysia next week.
The KL International Inter City Kabaddi Championships is an unique competition that would see team from various cities battling it out against each other.
The championships would see a record 12 teams in the men’s competition and
six in the women’s category.
The first edition of the championships two years ago attracted less than half the number of teams that are making their way to the Malaysian capital next week from March 5-7.
While the Indian city teams are favoured to walk away with the crowns, strong presence is expected from the Sri Lankan and Malaysian representatives.
Two years ago, India’s Patialla bagged a double by winning both the men’s and women’s title.
The Patialla men, were however, stretched to the limit by hosts Kuala Lumpur in the final and only managed to eke out a narrow in the final minutes of the game.
Both teams have been drawn in separate groups in the men’s competition this year.
Hosts Kuala Lumpur are faced in a daunting task of making it to the quarter-finals having been drawn in the same group with Chennai and Mumbai in Group D.
Although the top two teams in the group qualify for the last eight, it would still be an herculean task for the local side.
Chennai and Mumbai are the cradle of kabaddi in India and would hold the edge over Kuala Lumpur.
In Group A, Colombo are expected to qualify for the last eight together with India’s Kaparthula.
The KL Presidents XII are not expected to pose much threat to either team. The KL Presidents XII comprises of junior Under-19 players from Kuala Lumpur out to gain experience at the championships.
Group B comprises of New Delhi, Nepal’s Katmandu and the sole European representatives Oslo. Delhi are expected to be a much stronger side than the team that finished fourth at the last championships.
The Oslo team comprises of non-residential Indian residents and are also expected to be strong contenders.
Defending champions Patialla are in Group C with Malaysia’s Putrajaya and India’s Vijayawada.
In the women’s competition, Kuala Lumpur are in Group X with Oslo and Jagtpura while Group Y comprises of Putrajaya, Colombo and New Delhi.
Both the local teams are much stronger that they were two years ago and would be looking to do well at the championships.
The tournament offers an avenue for the players to showcase their talents and through it help promote the game in Malaysia.
GROUP A: COLOMBO, KL PRESIDENTS XII, KAPURTHALA
GROUP B: NEW DELHI, KATMANDU, OSLO
GROUP C: PATTIALA, PUTRAJAYA, VIJAYAWADA
GROUP D: KUALA LUMPUR, MUMBAI, CHENNAI