PETALING JAYA: A young Johor team led by coach Sarjit Singh (pic)shocked everyone in the Razak Cup last year when they finished as runners-up in the tournament.
In the final, they were defeated 1-3 by Melaka, but they shocked top teams like Perak and Terengganu en route to the final.
Sarjit, however, is not having such high hopes for his team this year. He will be happy with a top-eight finish.
With no age-limit and national players back in the fray, he believes many states will be stronger this year.
“Our Sukma boys will be taking part in the Razak Cup. We will have two seniors from the national team – defender Faiz Helmi (Jali) and goalkeeper Hairi (Abdul Rahman), ” said Sarjit, a former national captain.
“This time, the tournament will be tougher because many states will have their national players. Also, it is just one division now, instead of two. So, I expect the competition to be very open.
“I hope the boys will do their best in the competition, and gain as much experience as possible.”
This year’s Razak Cup tournament will be played in a single division format without age barriers, and the competition will be held at the National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil from Sept 18 to 26. Last year, national players were barred and each team had to register four Under-21 players.
A total of 15 teams have registered in the men’s category, with Sabah making a return after a four-year lapse while Sarawak opted to stay out.
Sarjit said that due to the pandemic situation, he has resorted to “de-centralised training” to keep his boys in good shape.
“We provide training programmes for the players and they train at their home and schools.
“We hope to gather the full team only by September, and train for the tournament proper. We will play some friendlies a week before the competition, to get ourselves used to the ground in Bukit Jalil.
“Right now, it is tough to gather the players. Most of my players are in Form Five and Six or are university students. I am sure their schools, colleges or universities will have guidelines.”