Feb 19, 2014

Guest Post: India to skip Azlan Shah Cup 2014

India will not participate in Azlan Shah this year

India’s national men’s hockey team has confirmed it will now not participate in the Azlan Shah Cup this March, having previously said it would.

In a move that is likely to disappoint sports betting fans, head coach, Terry Walsh, won’t be fielding a team in the competition they have won five times since 1985.

“Our high performance director Roelant Oltmans and chief coach Terry Walsh have decided that we need to prepare keeping the World Cup in mind,” Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra told The Hindu.

“Our team will be playing a tournament in Europe as a build up for the World Cup. Our players need to acclimatise to the European conditions before the World Cup starts.”

With the Azlan Shah being held in a humid Malaysia, the coaching staff believe their squad won’t have enough time to acclimatise to the cooler European climate of the Hague, Holland, where the World Cup gets underway in late May.

Instead, the team will play training matches in Europe to get used to the drier conditions.

While focusing on the World Cup is commendable, there is likely to be frustration among bettingfans that India has rejected the Azlan Shah. Having recently excelled in the competition – they won in 2009 and 2010 – the expectations on them competing again are high, as are the chances of them claiming another crown.

So far, defending champions Australia, along with twice winners South Korea, Canada and France join 2013 finalists Malaysia for the tournament, while New Zealand and Argentina rejected the invitation.

This means a slightly weakened field for the Aslan Shah, but nevertheless a competitive one as Australia look to cement their stranglehold on the competition.

Make no mistake, India’s absence should be justified when it comes to the World Cup later this year, even if it leaves a sour taste in the mouth right now.

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