India may skip Azlan Shah tournament x2|
September 25, 2003
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Kuala Lumpur: India may have to pull out of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, slated to be held here in January next year, owing to its commitment to the Dutch team which has been invited to play five Tests in India during the same time.
India had been invited informally to participate in Azlan Shah but since a formal confirmation was not made, it was decided to go ahead and play a Test series with the Netherlands at home," Indian Hockey Federation Secretary K Jothikumaran said today.
"Our participation in Azlan Shah is doubtful as we have committed to play five Tests with the Dutch team in late January," said Jothikumaran, who is here for the Asian Hockey Federation committee meeting to be held on Saturday.
India had pulled out of the Azlan Shah earlier this year as a protest against the treatment meted out to some of their IT professionals in Malaysia.
"Now that we have already agreed to play the Netherlands it would be very difficult to play in the Azlan Shah. But we have to wait and sort it out with the MHF before we arrive at a final decision on our participation in the tournament here.
"We will sort out dates and other logistics to see how the situation emerges finally," Jothikumaran said.
"We are very keen on hosting the Netherlands because it would be the first time in about 26 years that the Dutch side would be playing a Test series in India. They want to play in hot conditions during late January-February and so we are planning to host matches at Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai."
Malaysia, on their part, have said they may not take part in the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad next month because of "concern about their earlier commitment to tour Australia around that time."
Jothikumaran dismissed suggestion that Malaysia could be carrying a grudge on account of India's last-minute pull out from Azlan Shah tournament this year.
"We had a genuine reason for not participating. We put forward our point of view before the FIH which admitted that our reasons for pulling out were legitimate and genuine," he said.
"Malaysia should give priority to the AAG because it is all about regional solidarity. But anyway if Japan want to come for AAG in place of Malaysia, it is acceptable to us."
Meanwhile, Jothikumaran said Pakistan had agreed to take part in the Afro-Asian Games and were looking forward to it.
He also said India might play Pakistan again in Decemeber at Dubai in a four-nation tournament, the logistics of which were being sorted out.
"But one to one matches are not on for now. We would have to wait for government's clearance before bilateral series is resumed."
Jothikumaran said he has had informal talks with his Paksitani couterpart on Indo-Pak hockey ties and a decision could be reached at the sidelines of AAG.
"We will have an official meeting during that time and see if we can work it out. For the moment we can only discuss informally. Even during the Asian Hockey Confederation meeting here on Saturday we cannot take final decision because it is not a council meeting. We can discuss various points though during the committee meeting."
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