KUALA LUMPUR: National junior coach Nor Saiful Zaini is in a dilemma as he will not have the services of seven key players for the six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup hockey tournament at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru from Oct 6-13.
Players Muhd Hamiz Mohd Ahir, Muhd Arif Syafie Ishak, Mohd Akhimullah Anuar Esook, Muhd Amirul Hamizan Azhar, Muhd Muhibuddin Moharam, Syarman Mat Tee and Muhd Noor Firdaus Rosdi will feature in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Oct 6-18.
Nor Saiful said it was unfortunate that the dates of the Sultan of Johor Cup and the Youth Olympics clashed.
“The priority is to play in the Youth Olympics as this is the first time Malaysia have qualified for the Games,” said Nor Saiful.
“It is going to be difficult for my team to put up a strong challenge in the Sultan of Johor Cup in the absence of these key players.”
World junior champions India, defending champions Australia, Britain, Japan and New Zealand will feature in the tournament.
“The other teams will be here with their best players while I’m struggling to assemble a team of 18 good players for the tournament,” said the former international.
“I may call up a few more players to beef up our team but it’ll not be easy as some of them have never played international tournaments before.”
Last year, Australia beat Britain 2-0 in the final while India outplayed Malaysia 4-0 to finish third.