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An exciting New Zealand U21 Men's hockey team has been named today for the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, 6-13 October.
Plenty of good hockey players have come out of Dunedin in the past decade — the Ward brothers look set to join that list.
Preview Sultan of Johor Cup
India and Australia will be the center of attraction in the eighth edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup as they each chase a unique treble of titles.
The six-nation invitational tournament starts tomorrow here at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium will showcase some of the top juniors in the world parade their skills.
Joining India and defending champions Australia are hosts Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand and former champion Great Britain.
India were finalists on four occasions from 2012 to 2015. They won the titles in 2013 and 2014. Australia on the other hand won their titles in 2016 and 2017. They also made the inaugural final in2011 but lost to Malaysia.
This year teams can be expected to field a younger set of players as they look ahead towards the Junior World Cup qualifiers over the next two years. Some of the teams have also lost key players to their nation’s Youth Olympics challenge in Argentina.
Malaysian national chief coach Nor Saiful Zaini Nasiruddin said they are looking forward to a top four finish this year. They were fourth last year as well.
“We are looking forward to this tournament and hope to finish amongst the top four. It is going to be a tough week looking at the quality of teams that are here.
“We played two friendly matches against Australia (lost 1-0) and Great Britain (draw 0-0) and our problem in the forward line was evident. We need to score to win matches and must overcome this problem” he said.
But overall, he is happy with the display by the team and felt that they will improve game by game.
“Overall I am happy with the approach and attitude, but I fear their lack of confidence is a factor to be considered,” he added.
Indian coach Jude Felix said losing some of his key players may affect the team.
“As has Malaysia, we lost several players to the Youth Olympics. But I believe there is enough depth in the squad to overcome it.
“We need to be consistent and therein lies the problem. It is never easy for any team to play 6 matches over 8 days and remain consistent.
“But I am optimistic of our chances and having just missed the cut to make the final last year. We hope to make amends and go for the top,” he added.
India like Australia has always been a competitive force in the tournament.
The Australians can become the first team to win the back-to-back title three times.
Australian coach Chris O’ Reilly said that they do have an experienced team although their preparations have not been that thorough.
“We have a good blend of players, both young and experienced and hope to do well. In this current squad we have eight players that played last year, so much will depend on how they perform.
“Our preparations have not been that great honestly. We only got together as a team on Monday in Johor Baru and have been working hard to put things together.
“It will be a very competitive tournament as usual and we intend to take it one match at a time, “he added.
Great Britain is also a team to watch out for. They were champions in 2015 and made the final last year. One can expect them to make another bid for a second title.
Japan and New Zealand have always made it a difficult task for teams and will be expected to so this year. They have yet to make a final appearance in the series.
Japan’s best outing was in 2016 when they finished in third place while the Kiwis were fourth in 2014.
Johor Hockey acting president Datuk Manjit Majid Abdullah said hockey fans can be assured of a top-class fare.
“We hope the fansvwill come out in full force to cheer the teams and not just our national juniors. Entrance to the stadium is free and we would like to see more school going children to make the tip to Taman Daya for the games.
“ The matches will be telecast live over RTM as well as social media platforms, thus truly having a global audience.
“ We have also ensured that the teams will have good hospitality and go back with fond memories,” he said.
Great Britain vs New Zealand – 4.05pm
Australis vs Japan – 6.05pm
Malaysia vs India – 8.35pm
Japan vs Great Britain - 4.05pm
India vs New Zealand – 6.05pm
Australia vs Malaysia – 8.35pm
( All matches at Taman Days Hockey Stadium and telecast live over RTM. )
Australia came back from a goal down to stop India’s march in the Sultan of Johor Cup following a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium today.
Game 1 – India v Australia
Game 2 – Malaysia v USA
Game 3 – Japan v Great Britain
Great Britain produced an astonishing performance to down defending champions Australia 4-2 in the Sultan of Johor Cup at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium today.