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HOCKEY: All systems go for hosts

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BLAST OFF: Coach Revington confident Malaysia can do well in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

WITH an eye on next year's World Cup, Malaysia, who have not qualified for the big event since 2002, will use the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which starts on Saturday, to prepare for two major assignments this year.

The World League (Round 3), scheduled for June 29-July 7 in Johor Baru and the Asian Cup on Aug 24-Sept 1 in Ipoh, are qualifying tournaments for the World Cup in the Netherlands.

Malaysia, Germany, England, Pakistan and South Korea and three yet-to-be-decided teams in the World League will vie for four qualifying spots while the champions in the Asian Cup will also earn a ticket.

In his third assignment as national coach, South African Paul Revington hopes his team will make an impact on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup for an early boost ahead of the two assignments.

Under Revington, Malaysia finished a respectable fourth in the Champions Challenge I event and third in the Asian Champions Trophy, both last year.

The coach used mixed-and-match squads and tested different strategies in those tournaments.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will comprise the hosts, defending champions New Zealand, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Australia.

The teams have named mixed squads as they, too, are preparing for the World Cup qualifying tournaments while some are using it to test players ahead of the Junior World Cup in India on Dec 6-15.

Malaysia, who have yet to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, finished sixth of seven teams last year and occupied bottom position in 2011.

The team finished runners-up in 1985, 2007 and 2009.

Revington has set a difficult but achievable target for his team.

"I believe we can win every match in Ipoh," said Revington recently.

Baljit Singh and Nor Izzat Sumantri have been included in the 18-member squad following their impressive performances in the 3-2 win over the Kiwis in Malacca on Tuesday.

Ismail Abu (injured) and Amir Farid, who were fighting for the remaining two slots in the team, have been omitted.

India, the five-time champions, are using the tournament for development purposes and have named mostly juniors while Pakistan have left out fever-struck Waseem Ahmad and the injured Shakeel Abbasi.

New Zealand will be led by the experienced Dean Couzins along with Andy Hayward, Stephen Jenness, Arun Panchia, and Hugo Iglis while South Korea, the defending Asian Cup champions, have named a formidable squad.

Rob Hammond, 26, will lead Australia, comprising mostly inexperienced players.

The Malaysian squad: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Razie Rahim, Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh, Jivan Mohan, Faisal Saari, Faiz Helmi, Chua Boon Huat, Sukri Mutalib, Izad Hakimi, Fitri Saari, Shahrun Nabil, Azammi Adabi, Marhan Jalil, Nabil Fiqri, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin, Nor Izzat Sumantri.

National coach Paul Revington believes his side can win every match in Ipoh.


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