The 23rd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is fast becoming a sham no thanks to poor planning by the Organising Committee.
The latest low came about when Pakistan withdrew from the seven team event by notifying the Malaysian Hockey Confederation who kept the news to themselves until NewStraits Times journalist Jugjet Singh managed to get the official word from the national body late Saturday.
The whole tournament had lost its glitter, turning from a classy A level event to a C grade event following the decision by top teams to give the event a miss.
It all boils down to a poor choice of dates by the overzealous Organisors who clearly lacked the ability to convince teams to come with some forward thinking.
Even former national coach Paul Revington was baffled by the choice of dates for this years event given the fact that the Champions Challenge was slated for April 26 to May 4 and the World Cup in The Hague slated for May 31 till June 15.
Revington had requested, prior to resigning, to hold the tournament in February as that would have allowed to European sides like Germany, Holland, Belgium, England and Spain to be available. But all he got was a curt replay that the Sultan was not agreeable.
Those who know the Sultan will be well aware that he has the best interest of hockey at heart and has gone out of his way to hold the event even in January and May to suit the international calendar.
It is clear that inept officials caused irreparable damage to the event as they failed to look at the bigger picture. Thus the 23rd edition has lost its glitter as teams like Argentina, New Zealand, India, Belgium - all declined the invites and Australia will surely field the developmental squad.
And by having teams ranked behind Malaysia in the world ranking being invited to play, Malaysia is giving a paid for match practice to teams like Canada, China and France ( till they withdrew) a perfect platform to better themselves at Malaysian expense.
This is hardly the sought of preparation for the Malaysian team to prepare for a World Cup.
Perhaps the Perak HA, which has not even merged thus running foul of FIH regulations that compelled MHF to merge with MWHA to form a single entity, could now field a combined team of illegals to play in what is the worlds longest running international tournament.
They will go down as a bunch of individuals who have gave scant respect to such a great tournament, all because of their lack of ability to think out of the box.