Saturday, May 19, 2012


A truly world class field will descend to Ipoh for the 21st edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from 24th of May - 3rd June.

That six of the seven teams in the fray for the 2012 chapter have a ticket for London Olympics invests the competition with unusual significance.

India, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia will provide the Asian challenge as Olympic hosts Great Britain, Oceania representatives New Zealand and Pan American champions Argentina also stake a claim for the title, the last big event before the Olympic competition gets underway this July.
The tournament this time acquires the character of a pre-Olympic competition. This is confirmed by the composition of the teams, which contain the nucleus that will be seen in action at the Olympiad.

And living up to its appeal to hockey fans both local and international, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup received a tremendous boost as many organizations enhanced the stature of the tournament by presenting their sponsorship to His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah.

Present at the ceremony were National Sports Council Director General Dato Zolkples Embong, Asian Hockey Federation Secretary General Tan Sri Dato Seri P. Alagendra and Malaysian Hockey Confederation Senior Vice President Dato Nur Azmi Ahmad.

Among those who pledged their support were: Astro, Perak State Government, Kuala Lumpur Kepong, Tan Sri Shamsuddin Abdul Kadir, Ngan Yin Groundnut, Tenby International, Yang Bina Sdn Bhd, Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh Tenaga Nasional Berhad, SBSK PLantation, De Nest, Famina Enterprise, National Sports Council, Boustead Holdings Berhad, Asia Bina Sdn Bhd, Sun Seng Fatt Sdn Bhd, Tan Chee Seng Sdn Bhd, Dataran Star Sdn Bhd, Spritzewr, Chillis Bar & Restaurant and Nestle Products Berhad.

"Any event cannot be successful without the support of sponsors and we are honoured that most of them are here with us today to renew their commitment towards their support of what is one of the worlds leading hockey event" said Organising Chairman Abdul Rahim Md  Ariff.

An inevitable question that surfaces in a preview often relates to identifying the possible winner. This endeavour is always based on form, the strength of the continent and a little bit of history. Viewed from this standpoint, Great Britain emerges as the favourite.

Preparing to secure a place on the podium, if not the gold itself, GB is sure to leave no stone unturned to take the trophy from Ipoh. Nothing can be a greater morale booster for the squad that ended up with a bronze in the recent four nation test event.

That India is slowly ascending on the international chart needs to be taken notice of. The new Aussie coach, Michael Nobbs, has succeeded in fashioning a fairly balanced squad notwithstanding the domestic structural inadequacies.
The Kiwis, led by the seasoned campaigners are renowned for their quiet efficiency. They bring in an element of sobriety, systematisation and style in their approach.
It is difficult to predict anything about Argentina. When things roll well no opposition is too difficult for the Pan-American champion. They have proved it umpteen times on the international arena.

Not since 2003, has a Pakistani squad picked up the glittering Azlan Shah Cup. With the Olympic Games looming large on the horizon Pakistan needs to do a lot of realistic assessment to fashion a squad that can threaten top teams.

Joint winners with India in 2010, the Koreans, for reason known only to them, have viewed this event as a rehearsal for bigger challenges ahead. Korea was lucky to make it to the Olympics after beating Ireland by the last second goal in Dublin.

With a no title  record since inception of the tournament in 1983, Malaysia’s predicament is unenviable. There have been some breath-taking performances in the competition but singular lack of consistency hampered the path to the top of the podium.