Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is an international men’s field hockey event that is organized by Malaysian Hockey Confederation annually. 26th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is going to start from 29th April and will be ended on 6th May 2017 in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Six teams Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Great Britain, India and hosts Malaysia will participate in it. Last year seven teams fought for the title while this year number of teams is reduced to six. Pakistan and Canada are ignored for the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, while Great Britain has been invited. Last year, Pakistan finished at fifth position although the highest goal scorer of the tournament was Arslan Qadir (with 6 goals) from Pakistan. Surprisingly Pakistan team (who stood 5th last year) is kicked out of the tournament instead of Japan as Japan stood 7th last year.
According to organizers this tournament would serve as a warm-up for all the participating teams ahead of the Hockey World League in London.
According to Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Pakistan is being dropped from this important event without elaborating any reason and they are observing all conspiracies being hatched against Pakistan and will respond through performances. Pakistan has been regularly taking part in the Azlan Shah Cup since 1983, have won it thrice in 1999, 2000 and 2003.
Recently Pakistan team toured New Zealand and Australia where they won the series 2-1 against New Zealand while lost all the matches against top ranked team Australia. Results were not bad at all and it was a great learning experience for green shirts.
As the team was not invited by Malaysia for the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has convinced Spain for a four-match test series in May. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has also contacted Ireland and England hockey officials for matches before the qualifying rounds. Pakistan are likely to visit Ireland in May to play three test matches with Irish team. PHF is trying to arrange some more international matches for Pakistan team before their participation in Hockey World League Semi finals in London, June this year.
As we have seen in the past that Pakistan failed to qualify for the World Cup 2014 and 2016 Rio Olympics therefore Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is not taking Hockey World League lightly as it is the qualifiers for the Hockey World Cup and is trying to prepare players so that they do well in it.