KUALA LUMPUR: Next year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament will be an eight-team affair.
So far six teams have confirmed participation. Japan will make a return to the annual event and they will be joined by defending champions New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Australia, Britain and hosts Malaysia.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have also invited Germany and Holland. One of these two teams will make up the eight-team roster.
Said MHC chief executive officer K. Logan Raj: “We have not heard from either Germany or Holland yet. If they are unable to come, we have Belgium on our radar. We hope to hold the tournament from April 7-16. There are no hitches on the dates, but we are waiting for a meeting next month to confirm it.”
The eight teams will be divided into two groups with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the semi-finals. Previously, only six or seven teams took part.
The Malaysian team have already started their preparations. There are no other major tournament for the team next year.
As part of their preparations, the Malaysians will go on two tours in March.
They will compete in a four-nation meet in New Zealand from March 3-16. Australia and India are the other two participating teams.
On the way home, the Malaysians will stop over for a training stint in Perth.
“The national players will train until Dec 23. They will then take a break and resume training on Jan 6. There are plans to include a few more players in the 33-man training squad. But the new inclusions will only come in January,” said Logan Raj.