After the year’s first hockey tournament ended on Saturday,Express takes a look at the four talking points from the event...
GB’s Olympics plans have already begun
When the schedule for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was out, there was one surprise, Great Britain’s appearance. They usually come together under one team just before the Olympics, not at the beginning of a new cycle. But coach Bobby Crutchley wanted a unified team for the meet to experiment and also learn from past mistakes. After the title, he told Express that chances of them rocking up as GB in more invitational events will only rise as they plan their assault on Tokyo 2020.
India still crumble under pressure
When the going gets tough, India refuse to move. That modern spin on an old adage was again on show against the hosts in the last group game. It’s only the year’s first tournament, but it’s the same problem. The result in itself was not worrying as much as the performance. Roelant Oltmans’ charges, for want of a better phrase, stank the place with their overall play, as scoreboard pressure got to them. The seniors, who had been very good till that stage, went missing.
Japan’s rise means they are here to stay
A pet peeve is how host nations get a free slot in a team event and don’t bother to try and improve themselves. It’s fair to say Japan aren’t one of them. They did something that three more established teams couldn’t — score in all games. Their style may be limited at the moment, but it has been identified that they are trying to maximise their attacking potential by being lightning quick on the break. With more events lined up, it will be interesting to see how this group develops as a bunch ahead of the Asian Games.
Scheduling problems for next year’s meet
With the Commonwealth Games scheduled for April, next year’s meet could be advanced or postponed. If it’s held in March, chances are India may not turn up. With the Hockey India League (HIL) set to be longer, there is no way Roelant Oltmans will take the team to Ipoh a few days after the league ends. What’s more, there will most definitely be at least a month-long camp ahead of the Games. If it’s postponed, it could be held just before the Asian Games, and the same problems could resurface.