The 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament has been hit by a series of withdrawals. Pakistan has become the latest country to cry out of the premier tourney of the Asian region, dealing a severe blow to Malaysian Hockey Confederation – the organizers of the event.
It is learnt that Pakistan had earlier confirmed its participation only to back out at the eleventh hour without citing any reason for their pull-out. The organizers are left disappointed by the developments and now intends to keep the event a six-team affair as it has little time left to seek for a replacement. Sources say the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) communicated their withdrawal decision through an e-mail recently.
The 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will be held from March 13-23 in Ipoh, featuring hosts Malaysia, Australia, Canada, China, South Africa and South Korea. The late pull-out of Pakistan means the organizers will now have to rejig the fixtures, which needs a FIH approval.
Pakistan are the third team to cry out of the 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. India had earlier declined an invitation to play as they want to focus on their 2014 World Cup preparations with their national camp around the same time. France was the second team to pull out as they desired to play in the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan instead and were replaced by South Africa.
The organizers are also hard-pressed to alter the duration of the tourney as most of the participating teams have already made their travel plans. Quite clearly, Pakistan’s last minute pull-out have hit the organizers of the 2014 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hard.