Malaysia’s Muhammad Firhan Ashari (right) in action during the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2013. — filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: The fourth Sultan of Johor Cup will remain a six-nation affair.
Defending champions India have confirmed their participation and will join hosts Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, England and Pakistan in the tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru from Oct 12-19.
“We are happy that all the invited teams have confirmed their entries early. We had a meeting earlier this week and all the preparations are on schedule,” said tournament organising secretary Manjit Majid Abdullah.
The Sultan of Johor Cup is an Under-21 event which participating teams traditionally use as part of their build-up to the Junior World Cup Finals.
Malaysia will be represented by the Project 2016 team and it will be their first international outing.
A. Arulselvaraj is the coach and he is preparing the team to qualify for the 2016 Junior World Cup Finals.
The previous Project 2013 team, under coach K. Dharmaraj, finished fourth in the Junior World Cup Finals in New Delhi last year.
There were plans to enter the Project 2016 team in the Razak Cup and Malaysia Hockey League (Premier Division) last year, but it failed to materialise.
“We have 25 players in the team but they are short on match practice. I have told all the players to find a team to play in the Razak Cup and MHL this year. That is the only way we can keep tabs on their performance level,” said Arulselvaraj.
“We also hope to go on a playing tour, possibly to Australia before competing in the Sultan of Johor Cup,” he added.
Arulselvaraj will also be preparing the team for the Junior Asia Cup in Kuantan next year. The tournament is a qualifier for the 2016 Junior World Cup Finals. Only the top three will qualify.
In 2012, Malaysia won the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca to qualify for the 2013 Junior World Cup Finals.