KUALA LUMPUR: The Razak Cup hockey tournament, which begins tomorrow at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, is in turmoil after Negri Sembilan and Kedah have pulled out at the eleventh hour due to the new competition rules.
Under the new rules, introduced by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee, each state is allowed to have four guest players.
Negri Sembilan team manager S. Chandran said they are unhappy with the new rules.
“We have eight players, who are studying at schools in Tampin and in Gemencheh, which are districts of Negri Sembilan,” said Chandran, who is also the Negri Sembilan Hockey Association coaching committee chairman.
“And they’ve been playing for us in age group tournaments and also the Sukma. We have named them for the Razak Cup.
“But the eight players’ MyKad code is 04 as they were born in Melaka.
“So, these players are considered guest players and we must get a release letter from the Melaka HA for them to play for us in the Razak Cup.”
“We have supporting documents to prove that they’re all studying and playing for Negri Sembilan since they were young.
“We’ll also provide you copies of their school leaving certificates and also supporting documents from their respective schools that they are still studying in Negri Sembilan.
“We tried to contact the MHC competitions committee chairman and team competition committee manager to explain the situation. But they were unable to resolve the issue.
“The MHC president and deputy president also could not assist us. We have no choice but to withdraw from this year’s Razak Cup,” said Chandran.
Kedah HA secretary B. Sandragesan said they also withdrew due to the four guest players ruling.
“We have seven players who have played for Kedah in age group tournaments although they are born in Penang,” said Sandragesan.
“We could not assemble a team for the Razak Cup because we could not get the release from Penang HA.
“We also could not get in touch with MHC officials to help us resolve the issue. So we decided to pull out.”
With Negri Sembilan’s withdrawal, seven teams will feature in Division One – defending champions Perak, Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka, Johor and Perlis.
Kedah were supposed to play in Division Two and with their withdrawal, only six teams are left – Pahang, Armed Forces, Kelantan, Selangor, Police and Singapore.
Meanwhile, MHC competitions committee manager Brian Fernandez, who was supposed to be in charge of all domestic tournaments in Malaysia, is in Muscat, Oman, as the tournament director of the Asian Champions Trophy.
The Razak Cup – now in its 56th edition – is the oldest hockey tournament in the country.