India to skip Azlan Shah Cup for World Cup preparation

New Delhi, Jan 17: The Indian hockey team will not participate in the 23rd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia, March 13-23 as they will be preparing for the World Cup in Europe.

“India will not participate at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Our high performance director Roelant Oltmans and chief coach Terry Walsh have decided that we need to prepare keeping the World Cup in mind,” Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra said here Friday.

The World Cup will be held at the Hague, Netherlands, from May 31 to June 15 in relatively cooler conditions than tropical Malaysia.

“Our team will be playing a tournament in Europe as a build up for the World Cup. Our players need to acclimatise to the European conditions before the World Cup starts. Keeping these factors in mind, we decided not to send the team to Malaysia.”

India are five-time champions of the Azlan Shah Cup, winning it in 1985, 1991, 1995, 2009 and 2010.

So far four teams — Australia, South Korea, Canada and France — have confirmed their entry along with hosts Malaysia.

IANS