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Wednesday April 18, 2012

Azlan rules himself out of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: Seasoned campaigner Azlan Misron will not feature in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from May 24-June 3.

The Perak-born utility player, who will turn 29 on May 21, said he needs a break from competition.

“I’m not thinking of retiring just yet but I want a respite after the failure in Dublin.

“I’m still upset that we let everyone down by failing to qualify for the third consecutive Olympics,” said Azlan, who has 270 caps to his credit.

Malaysia finished a disappointing third in the Dublin qualifier behind winners South Korea and hosts Ireland. Azlan sent a letter to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) on Monday stating that he did not want to be considered for the Ipoh assignment.

However, he stressed that he was available for future tournaments if his services were required.

Azlan said his biggest disappointment was not having played in the Olympics or World Cup despite being a member of the national team since 2002.

“I was dropped for the 2002 World Cup, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, but I hope to be still around for the 2014 World Cup qualifier,” he said.

Azlan feels the younger players should be given the chance to play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as it would be good exposure for them.

“It is a friendly tournament so we should use it to blood the youngsters.

“They are the future and need the experience,” said Azlan, who plays for KL Hockey Club in the national league.

Twenty-four players were called up for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but only 11 turned up on Monday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

MHC secretary Johari Aziz said with Azlan skipping the tournament, there would only be 18 players in the squad as five others have been released to join the Project 2013 squad preparing for the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca next month.

“I expect the others to turn up today or by tomorrow,” said Johari.

The five who have joined the Project squad are Faiz Helmi Jali, Mohd Firhan Ashaari, Amir Farid Ahmad Puzi and the Saari brothers – Faizal and Fitri.

Forward Faizal played alongside his younger brother Fitri in Dublin.

No target has been set for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as Malaysia are the lowest ranked team – world No. 13 – in the tournament.

The others in the fray are number fourth ranked Britain, South Korea (6th), New Zealand (7th), Pakistan (8th), Argentina (9th) and India (10th).

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