Saturday, 1 February 2014 | MYT 4:21 PM
France opt out of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
KUALA LUMPUR: France will not make their debut in the 23rd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which begins next month in Ipoh.
Perak HA secretary M. Selvakumaran said that China would replace France, who have withdrawn because they have opted to play in other tournament in Europe.
“We are happy that China, who were on the waiting list, have agreed to play in the tournament,” said Selvakumaran, who is also the organising secretary of the tournament.
Besides Malaysia and China, the other teams in the fray are world champions Australia, South Korea, Pakistan, Canada and South Africa.
China will arrive in Malaysia in two weeks’ time to play a few friendlies against the national team.
National chief coach K. Dharmaraj wants to use the tournament to try out some of the players who featured in the New Delhi Junior World Cup in December.
For Dharmaraj, the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan from April 26-May 4 is more important and should be given priority.
However, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup organisers want him to name his best squad for the meet.
“All the other six countries have agreed to send their first choice players and we also want Malaysia to name their best players to make the tournament more interesting and competitive,” said Selvakumaran.
There is no target set for the national team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
However, it will be a good tournament to gauge the strength of world No. 1 Australia, who will play the opening match against Malaysia in the World Cup on May 31 in The Hague, Holland.
There are now 31 players in the training squad and Dharmaraj has to rotate his players as they will feature in five major tournaments in seven months.
Besides the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in March and Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan, Malaysia will also feature in the World Cup in Holland from May 31-June 15, Glasgow Commonwealth Games from July 23-Aug 3 and Incheon Asian Games from Sept 19-Oct 4.