THE Azlan Shah Cup received an RM1.7 million boost yesterday, as the the longest running international hockey event in the world enters its 22nd Edition.
Incepted in 1983, the tournament will be held in Ipoh on March 9-17 with Australia as the raging favourites to lift their sixth title.
Defending champions New Zealand, who beat Argentina 1-0 in the final last year, Pakistan, India, South Korea and hosts Malaysia are the other casts for the Six-Nation.
Raja Muda Perak Raja Nazrin Shah was present to receive the contributions from sponsors in Kuala Lumpur. Yayasan Sultan Azlan Shah, represented by Raja Datuk Seri Eleena Sultan Azlan Shah, handed the highest amount of RM500,000.
Also present was Tan Sri P. Alagendra, the secretary seneral of the Asian Hockey Federation.
National coach Paul Revington will have his hands full as he attempts to take Malaysia to a better finish than the sixth last year, and seventh the year before.
“We have had a good couple of weeks of training and recent games against Ireland to prepare for the Azlan Shah Cup. It is always nice to have games at the end of a training phase and I think both Ireland and New Zealand (end of the month) games are well timed for us.
“And I will be looking for results, which means I will be pushing for improvement in performance in every match,” said the South African.
Revington sees Australia as the raging favourites to claim a record sixth Azlan Shah Cup title.
“Australia are always highly competitive no matter what players they bring to an event. Their depth of talent is well known and they will arrive as favourites for the title.
“Pakistan and India are experiencing an upward curve in performance, which is healthy for the international game. While Korea and New Zealand are both arriving with new coaches and with teams that have produced consistently strong performances in recent years.”
“We will name 16 players on Thursday before the New Zealand games - with two final places possibly being announced after the NZ games,” said Revington.