Thailand, China pull out of Junior Asia Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The pullout will shorten the tournament in Hyderabad by three days. Aslam Sher Khan, head of India's selection committee, says it's a small matter.

Updated: July 02, 2008 17:42 IST
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New Delhi:

The Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament lost some of its sheen with Thailand and China pulling out of the event to be held in Hyderabad next month.

The twin pullout has forced the organisers to shorten the length of the event by three days and instead of July 8, the tournament would start on July 11.

"Two teams, Thailand and China, have informed the Asian Hockey Federation about their non-availability in the Junior Asia Cup. The AHF later informed us about the matter," Aslam Sher Khan, who heads the Indian ad-hoc selection committee, told PTI from Hyderabad.

Asked what made the nations pull out at the eleventh hour, Sher Khan said, "I don't know the reason they have communicated to the AHF but it is their internal matter."

"Because of their pull out, the tournament has been shortened as there will be less number of matches. The tournament will now start from July 11, instead of July 8."

He, however, refused to accept that the twin pullout would have any impact on the stature of the tournament.

"It's known to everyone that very few Asian nations play hockey and Thailand and China are no big teams either."

Asked if organisers were thinking about replacements, the former Olympian said, "I don't think it's possible, even though AHF knows it better. In such a short notice it's difficult for any nation to send a team here. But as host, we are ready for everything. Our job is to stage a successful tournament and we are up for it."

The pullouts will, however, see no change in the groupings. Malaysia will now open Group A campaign against Singapore on July 11. The other teams of the group include India and Japan, while Group B comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman and South Korea.

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