FIH to experiment on new rule in Sultan Azlan Shah tournament

KUALA LUMPUR: The days of 11 players defending their goalmouth in a hockey match may soon come to an end. 

The International Hockey Federation (FIIH) will begin an experiment to have only eight players in the defensive 25-yard area at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which will be held in Ipoh from March 22-30. 

The six teams in the fray are Malaysia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Germany and South Korea and if benefits to the game are seen in the experiment, it may become a mandatory trail in all tournaments next year. 

The Malaysian Hockey Federation's (MHF) secretary, S. Satgunam, said that they had agreed to the FIH directive last week to use the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for the experiment. 

Under the rule, a team must have at least three players outside their defensive 25-yard line. The errant team will concede a penalty corner and players who continually breach the rule could be cautioned, warned or suspended. 

“Our tournament is sanctioned by the FIH and we are ready to provide all the help to improve the game.  

The FIH have informed the participating teams and there should be no problem in the experiment,” said Satgunam. 

But he said that the rule would not be implemented in domestic competitions yet. 

The FIH have made two rule changes this year, which are mandatory experimental rules in all FIH tournaments. They involve the penalty corner. 

A defending player can now stop the ball above his shoulders with the stick and the ball need not be stopped dead before a hit is taken at goal. 

The rules applied in the recent MHF Under-19 international invitational tournament. They also take effect in domestic meets, starting with the Under-21 meet today. 

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