Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2017 is here. Entering into its 26th edition, it is one of the most widely accredited hockey tournaments. This competition is going to take place in Ipoh, Malaysia from 29th April to 6th May. All the teams are getting ready for the face-off. Until then, here’s a sneak peek of how the participating teams have been preparing for the upcoming challenge.
Participating teams in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2017:
This year, only 6 teams are participating in the tournament, as opposed to 7 in the yester year’s edition. Pakistan and Canada have pulled out, whereas Great Britain is invited to the event.
First up there are the defending champions Australia, who are currently ranked No. 2 in the world. The chief coach Colin Batch has called out the experienced players for this tournament so as to provide depth in their team. Since Aussies have won 9 cups so far, they will go all guns blazing to make it a perfect 10.
Coming to Great Britain who has brought 12 new players in their contingent of 18. Most of the players are in form. Therefore the Brits will make sure that they come out on top at the end of the tournament.
Another team in the fray is New Zealand, who are in Ipoh with an experimental squad. Most of the players are young, but the Kiwis are seasoned campaigners. Everybody wants to win it, and this hockey playing bunch of New Zealand no exception to this fact.
Not to rule out the home team Malaysia and the Japanese. Even though Japan has not been able to perform well in the past, they would be looking forward to making their mark in this competition. Banking upon their recent success on the international circuit will be crucial for them.
Last but never the least is team India who is ranked number 6 in the world. Runner-ups in the previous edition will be looking forward to bettering their performance and clinch the trophy this time around. With many young guns in the team combined with the experienced candidates, India is expected to finish on the second place in the table. However arch rivals Australia and other countries will provide a stiff challenge.
The Indian team’s take on the tournament:
Rupinder Pal Singh, India’s ace drag-flicker is quite confident that the team will perform well in Ipoh. Talking about the team’s preparations for the matches, here is what he had to say:
There has been a lot of emphasis on strong defence and will come down to how we implement these strategies.
Whereas Roelant Oltmans, the chief coach of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team, backed Rupinder and further added that:
The best place to test our new style of play is in the big tournaments.
India will open their campaign against Great Britain on 29th April 2017. On the 30th of April India will play New Zealand. Following this is the clash with Australia on 2nd May 2017. Next up is Japan and last group match will be played with Malaysia on 3rd and 5th May respectively. All the classification matches, including the final, is scheduled on the last day i.e. 6th May.
The Indian team has put up a lot of effort for the improvement of their game. They have been training hard for this competition. Here’s wishing the Indian Men’s Hockey Team all the very best for this tournament. Hope they bring the cup home by winning this title. Our support is always with you team India. Cheers!