KUALA LUMPUR: The organisers of the Sultan of Johor Cup are looking at alternate plans as the haze in the country deteriorates.
The Johor Hockey Association (JHA) are worried but optimistic that the smog will clear in time before the tournament starts on Sunday.
Besides Malaysia, five foreign teams – Australia, India, Pakistan, Britain and Argentina – are competing in the eight-day Under-21 meet.
JHA secretary Manjit Majid Abdullah said the show is likely to go on as planned.
“We are naturally concerned about the haze as the players and officials are our priority. But there are indications that the haze might clear up. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it will not get worse than it is now,” he said.
Manjit said they would be liaising with the various agencies and look at all the options before making a decision.
“These options include the possibility of playing some matches at night when the haze has cleared up a little.
“We could also look at the morning time frame for some games. The next few days are crucial as the situation will be a lot more clearer,” he added.
Britain and Pakistan are expected to arrive on Monday while India will check in the following day. Argentina are scheduled to arrive on Friday.
Australia arrived in Singapore on Sunday. They are training in the republic before moving on to Johor Baru. But indications are that they will move to Johor Baru sooner than expected due to the haze in Singapore.
Manjit said the teams have also asked the JHA to arrange friendly matches for them before the start of the tournament.
“We’re waiting to see the haze situation before scheduling the friendlies. The teams can decide if they want to go ahead with the matches once they arrive here,” he added.
The Malaysian team spent a week in Johor Baru last week, but have gone back to Kuala Lumpur for their final phase of training. They are expected to play matches with the senior team before going to Johor Baru on Friday. Coach A. Arulselvaraj will name the final 18-member squad on Friday after a friendly with Britain.
The JHA also had a similar problem with the haze when they staged the World Hockey League Semi-Finals in 2013. Luckily for them, the haze cleared before the start of the tournament and Malaysia went on to book a place in the 2014 World Cup Finals.