SPORT

FIH president to attend Afro-Asian Games

Kuala Lumpur Sept. 26. Ms. Els van Breda Vriesmann, President, International Hockey Federation (FIH), has agreed to be present during the final stages of the Afro-Asian Games at Hyderabad. Ms. Els is expected to reach Hyderabad on October 27 and will stay for about four days to witness the eight-nation hockey competition.

She has also expressed a desire to meet the official sponsor of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), Mr. Subrata Roy, Managing Worker, Sahara-India. During the talks, Ms. Els will, presumably, invite Sahara Group to play a more active role on the global hockey scene. The FIH top brass is extremely impressed by the care and concern shown by the Sahara Group for not only in sponsoring the sport but for ensuring a large proportion of benefits reaching the players.

Meanwhile, doubts about Malaysia's participation in the Afro-Asian Games hockey event were cleared after Mr. Jothikumaran, Secretary, Indian Hockey Federation, had a discussion with the Malaysian Hockey Federation's Deputy President, Tan Sri P. Alagendra.

The Malaysians who are programmed to tour Australia during that period have agreed to cut short their tour and be available for the Afro-Asian Games from October 24.

There are conflicting reports in the media about India's acceptance or not of the invitation to the Azlan Shah Trophy tournament from January 8 to 18 next year. While the FIH calendar listed on the website does not include the name of India, leaving space for the seventh country as "to be announced" sources in the Malaysian Hockey Federation insist that India has already agreed to participate along with Australia, Pakistan, Germany, Korea, Spain and the host, Malaysia.

Misgivings arose on this count following India's last minute withdrawal from the competition in March this following a Government directive to pull out as a consequence to the treatment meted out to the Indian software professionals.

Adding to the confusion is the proposed visit of the Dutch national team in January or February for a Test series. But there are indications that efforts would be made to fit in both in such a way that one does not overlap the other.

As the defending champion of the men's Champions Challenge this year, India has again been invited for a four-nation tournament to be hosted by Australia in two centres, the second leg being Sydney from April 8 to 18, 2004. Pakistan and Argentina are the two invited for the event where the fourth team will be Australia.

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