Malaysian hockey fans can expect a new flavour at the upcoming 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (SASC) from April 16-25.

With a good mix of junior and senior players, as well as the touch of new coach Stephen Van Huizen and technical director Terry Walsh, it is highly anticipated to bring back the lost pride of Malaysian hockey.

“The team has a new look with players from the junior team who participated in Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan, new coaching set up and new technical director,” Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Chief Executive Officer K. Logan Raj told Bernama.

“This tournament will serve as the initial platform for Malaysia in its pursuit towards 2018 World Cup and 2020 Olympic qualification,” he added.

The qualifying tournament for the 2018 India World Cup, the World Hockey League (HWL), will start in 2017, whereby Malaysia will host Round 2 of the four round league, while for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the HWL is will be played in 2019.

Logan Raj confirmed that seven teams, hosts Malaysia, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Pakistan and Canada will do battle in the invitational tournament to be played at Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium, Ipoh.

“The Netherlands and Germany declined our invitation, as well as Great Britain due to their own programmes. Canada, one of the participants at this year’s Olympics, will be replacing Great Britain.

“The competition will witness the inclusion of four Olympic bound teams and three of the world’s top 10 teams, world number one Australia, India (7th) and New Zealand (8th),” he said.

Malaysia had a disastrous outing last year after finishing in last place (sixth place) while New Zealand won their second title defeating eight times champions Australia 3-1 in penalty shoot-out after both teams tied 2-2.

For record, Malaysia still have to capture their first title despite hosting the annual tournament since 1983 (was biennial from 1983 till 1998). Malaysia finished runners-up five times (1985, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014) and a third place finish in 1999. – BERNAMA

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