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THE Fifth Edition of the Raja Noora Ashikin Cup will return after five years in the wilderness, and will see a record 15 teams in action at the National Hockey Stadium at Bukit Jalil from Sunday.
The women’s teams have been divided into three groups with the top teams of in each group advancing to the semi-finals.
The fourth semi-finalists will be picked from the best among the three second placed teams. This system was in introduced to make sure that teams take every match seriously.
The RNA Cup made its debut in 2000 and was held in 2003, 2005 and 2006 and will mark a return after a five year hiatus.
Singapore are the invited team, while the team to beat would be Pahang as they have seven national players. Perak and Johor also have strong sides.
The tournament used to offer prize money in the past: “We are looking into providing grants to the winning teams instead of prize money,” said Malaysian Hockey Confederation Deputy President Puan Sri Noorashikin Raja Abdullah.
“With so many teams in this edition, it will provide coaches a an opportunity to gauge the performance of the current national players as well as be on the lookout for emerging talent.”
The national women’s team are scheduled to play in the Sea Cup in December in Thailand, but the tournament still remains an uncertainty as the Asian Hockey Federation is currently monitoring the flood situation there.
The tournament will also give the women an added avenue to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics Qualifier on April 25-may 6, as they have been placed with hosts Japan, Azerbaijan, Chile, Belarus and Trinidad & Tobago.
RNA CUP -- Goup A: Perak, Johor, B. Titiwangsa, Kedah, Police; Group B: Penang, SMK Puteri, Armed Forces, Pahang, Terengganu; Group C: Selangor, Singapore, KL Sukma, Malacca, Setia Cougar.