Indian Hockey team geared up for Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy

April 2nd, 2009 - 2:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Bhopal, Apr 2 (ANI): Indian hockey team is geared up to make a mark at the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy to be played in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 5 to 12 after undergoing rigorous practice session in Bhopal.

Indian Hockey coach Harendra Singh said that the five-nation event comprising of New Zealand, Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia and India, would be a build-up for the Asia Cup and also to improve the international rankings.

“The team who would be playing Azlan Shah will be able to develop a strategy for the Asia Cup. Since many good teams like New Zealand will be there so team would be motivated to play well. The one who one wins Asia Cup would directly qualify for the World Cup. But since we are the host of World Cup, we are directly qualified for it, but if we win Asia Cup, then we would be able to improve our ranking,” said Harendra Singh.

He said that he wanted to take the Indian team that currently ranks ninth among hockey playing countries, to top-six nations by then end of this year.

The hockey Asia Cup would be held at Kuantan, the capital of the State of Pahang from May 9 to 16.

The team is confident after the stunning performance in New Zealand, where India won the hockey Test series 2-0.

Team captain Sandeep Singh also expressed confidence in the team and said that the team would be going with the strategy to win.

“We have been undergoing good practice session for last two weeks. Team is working hard. Our strategy would be to play well, reach the final and win it,” Sandeep Singh.

Indian team ended up as runner-up last year the Azlan Shah Hockey Cup.

Indian hockey has been in decline since the 1970s, coinciding with the game’s switch to artificial turf with more emphasis on power, speed and accuracy than deft stickwork.

Cricket became a national obsession following India’s surprise victory in the 1983 World Cup, while interest in other sports dwindled due to a lack of success at international level. (ANI)

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