This year’s edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup has received a financial backing of up to RM2.13 million, the highest ever sponsorship in the tournament’s 33-year history.
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup organising committee chairman Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff said that the Yayasan Sultan Azlan Shah contributed about 15% of the total sponsorship funds.
“The sponsor for this year’s tournament is the same as the one from last year. The only difference is the amount given has increased (compared to RM1.7 million a year ago),” he said after the cheque handover ceremony yesterday as quoted by Sinar Harian.
Abdul Rahim also announced that the organizers will have a convoy that will bring the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur to the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh on April 4 in conjunction with the 25th consecutive edition of the tournament.
He also expressed his hopes for Malaysia to lift the trophy for the first time.
“Malaysia have never won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. This tournament will also serve as a preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil this August.
“The national squad would want to use this chance to attract the head coach’s interest to get a place in the Rio squad,” Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Ariff added.
The seven teams that will be joining the tournament, which will be held from April 6 to April 16, are Malaysia, Australia, India, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Pakistan.
The national hockey team have ended up as runners-up five times in 1985, 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2014, whereas Australia has won the cup the most times with 8 titles.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
Malaysia have a good chance of going all the way in this year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. They have an experienced squad with a couple of youngsters impressing head coach Stephen van Huizen over the past few months. They did reasonably well in the recent four Test matches against New Zealand, winning and drawing once and losing twice. Despite the two losses, Malaysia displayed a high level of hockey against the Kiwis with the likes of Joel Samuel van Huizen, Razie Rahim and Fitri Saari being the best-performing payers. They also won their Test match against South Korea yesterday, winning once and drawing once. If former national player Stephen Huizen can continue developing his team to progress to a higher level, they will be one of the teams to look out at the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.