THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) has given India until May 15 to
confirm their entry for the 2004 Azlan Shah Cup, failing which, England
will take their place.
India pulled out of the 12th Edition in Ipoh last month at the eleventh
hour protesting the Malaysian police treatment of their IT personnel. MHF,
instead of slamming the door on them for their behaviour, has decided to
give them more than what other teams were given.
Germany, Australia, Spain, South Korea, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia were
given a Feb 28 deadline and all six replied in the positive and in time.
MHF is only waiting for India's reply before it gets its marketing arm
cracking for the Cup scheduled for Jan 8-18, 2004.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) also let India off the hook
with a rap on the knuckles for pulling out of the recent Azlan Shah Cup.
The FIH Executive Board accepted the explanation offered by the Indian
Hockey Confederation (IHF) for pulling out of the Cup.
India withdrew just hours before their departure on the advice of the
Ministry of Sports, who were advised by the Ministry of External Affairs
not to travel to Malaysia for security reasons. FIH said there were no
grounds for sanctions or fines.
India's withdrawal caused many red faces in the MHF because its souvenir
programmes, fixtures and name tags with fixtures at the back had already
"The deadline for entries for the 2004 Azlan Shah Cup officially closed
on Feb 28, but we (MHF Council) decided to give India more time because
they have a large number of fans in Malaysia," said Satgunam.
Satgunam disclosed that England wrote in saying they are keen to play in
the 13th edition and that the MHF has marked them as the first reserve.
"After consulting chief coach Paul Lissek, MHF decided that in case
India reply in the negative, England will be invited," said Satgunam.
Spain will return to the Cup after a long hiatus because Lissek is keen
to play the 2004 Athens Olympic Qualifier hosts as a dry run before the
Invitations were sent out early because MHF was afraid teams might have
other commitments in the Olympic Qualifier year.
Malaysia have started planning for the Athens Qualifier and part of
their training is a tour-cum-Test matches in Madrid at the end of the
South Korea, who have set their sights on the Athens Olympics medal,
will play in the Four-Nation in Australia in early January before coming
for the Azlan Shah Cup.
The venue for next year's tournament has yet to be decided, but early
indication is that the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil is the