JAPAN was the first team to arrive for 29th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Men’s International Hockey tournament 2022 which begin on November 1 to Nov 10, at the Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium in Ipoh, and immediately sounded their intention to win the title.
The team arrived in the wee hours of yesterday morning in Ipoh by bus from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and had their first training session this evening.
“We came early due to very cold weather back home and wanted to acclimatise with hot and humid weather in Malaysia,” said team coach Akira Takahashi.
“It is our target is to win the tournament and we want to be well prepared and ready for the tournament here.
“We will go to South Africa for the Nations Cup after this, followed by Spain for another international tournament before we participate in India’s World Cup and Asian Cup in China.”
Perak HA secretary, Amarjit Singh Jessy said Japan have yet to submit their final squad for the tournament yet.
Japan were supposed to play a friendly match against Malaysia on Friday but have cancelled it and looking to play Pakistan which is not confirmed.
Japan open their campaign on Nov 1 in the opening match of the tournament against Egypt at 4pm.
The tournament which is making its comeback after the pandemic will be held in a round robin format.
The participating teams are hosts Malaysia, Korea, South Africa, Japan, Egypt and traditional powerhouse, Pakistan.
On the opening day after Japan’s match, Pakistan will take on South Africa in the next match before Malaysia play Korea for their opening match.
Since the tournament’s inception in 1983, for the very first time this year it will also offer world ranking points for participating counties.
Australia is the most successful team in the tournament with 10 titles but they will not be participating this year, while India have won it five times (who will also not be competing), since its inception as a biennial competition in 1983. Pakistan and South Korea have claimed the title three times each.
Japan has never won the tournament since they made their debut in 1987 when they finished 6th. In their three other appearance, they finished 7th in 2016, 6th in 2017 and 5th in 2019.
Admission is free for the tournament.