The Indian hockey team will not take part in the 2020 edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia as it will coincide with their preparations for their away Pro League matches in Germany.
The annual invitational tournament, usually a six-team affair, will be held from April 11-18. India will, however, be busy with their Pro League assignment in Berlin on April 25 and 26. Before that, the Manpreet Singh-led side will be in Bengaluru for the preparatory camp from April 6-19.
“We will be in Bhubaneswar till the end of February and then we go back to Bengaluru. Then back again here in May. We were going to go for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but our calendar is pretty full so unfortunately the timing didn’t work out,” said India chief coach Graham Reid. “Also, they changed the dates to April, so we had to cancel (it).”
For the last two years, the tournament was being played in March. The last time India skipped the tournament was in 2014.
After Australia, India are the second most successful team in the Azlan Shah Cup, having won it five times with the last title coming in 2010 when the trophy was shared with South Korea after the final was abandoned due to bad weather.
With Australia withdrawing from competition last year, also due to the Pro League, India had a good chance of winning the event. However, they were beaten by South Korea in a penalty shootout (4-2) after the regulation time score read 1-1 in the final.
Meanwhile, Malaysia or South Korea, both of whom have not qualified for the Olympics, could visit India for a Test series in the run-up to Tokyo. “Malaysia might come to Bengaluru at the end of March for a series,” added Reid.
After India play No 3 Netherlands, world champions Belgium and defending champions Australia in the first two months of the year, their next Pro League tie will be against Germany in April.
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