The ongoing 27th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Men’s International Hockey Tournament has drawn the interest of Sri Lanka and the Indonesian men and women’s teams in their preparations for the Asian Games this year.
The Sri Lankans arrived in Ipoh for a series of friendly matches with local clubs before travelling to Oman for the 2018 Asian Games Hockey Qualifier that is scheduled to be organised at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex from March 8 to 17.
“It was a great experience for the Sri Lankan team to watch top-class players and teams in the world. They have never seen such a high-level tournament before that involves World Champions Australia, Olympics gold medallist Argentina, England, Ireland, India and Malaysia,” said I.P. Wijeratne, Director (Sports) in the Sri Lanka Ministry of Sports who accompanied the team here.
“The players were very excited to watch the first day matches. I hope this experience will inspire and motivate them to play well in the Asian Games qualifiers in Oman. It is a life-time experience to be very honest,” he added.
“I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Perak Hockey Association for giving us this opportunity to train, play against local teams and the chance to watch the world’s top teams in action in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” said Wijeratne.
In the qualifiers, Sri Lanka are placed in Group B alongside with Oman, Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan whilst Group A comprises Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Thailand and Afghanistan.
The five qualifying teams as well as hosts Indonesia will join India, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and China in the hockey competition of the 2018 Asian Games scheduled to be held in Jakarta from August 18 to September 2.
The Indonesian men’s and women teams, currently in Ipoh for the pre-Malaysia Games (SUKMA) hockey tournament, are also taking this opportunity to watch all the matches.
Perak Hockey Association has been gracious to accommodate the Sri Lankans and Indonesians during their stay in Ipoh.