Barren year for hockey with Azlan Shah Cup off

KUALA LUMPUR: The men’s national hockey team will not have any tournament to play this year. The only one left on the calendar – the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh – has been cancelled.

The tournament was initially slated for April 11-18 but was postponed to Sept 27-Oct 3 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six teams were supposed to feature in the tournament, which has been held uninterrupted since 1983. The teams are 10-time champions Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Perak Hockey Association president Mohd Sayuti Samat said they had sought the advice of the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah and were told to call off the tournament this year.

“It is sad that we are unable to host the tournament this year but the well-being of the teams, officials and fans is of utmost importance, ” said Sayuti.

“We have informed the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and they will send a notification to FIH (International Hockey Federation), Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) and teams concerned.”

The dates for the tournament next year will also be an issue as the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, usually held in March or April, will clash with the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Johor Baru scheduled in March next year.

The month of Ramadan will start in early April.With the Olympics scheduled for July next year, the options are to hold it either in February or middle of May.

Another annual hockey tournament, the Under-21 Sultan of Johor Cup, is scheduled from Oct 3-10. The fate of the tournament will be known in July.

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