Junior hockey team to compete in two invitational meets prior to Asia Cup

KUALA LUMPUR: The national junior hockey team will participate in two invitational tournaments this year as part of their preparations for the Junior Asia Cup next year. 

The first is the International Challenge in Poland from Aug 20-25 and Malaysia are the defending champions. 

The second is a four-nation meet in Pakistan from Dec 1-5.  

The tournament will also feature the Pakistan seniors as the fifth team but their results would not be taken into account in the standings. 

Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary S. Satgunam said: “We do not have a comprehensive programme in place for the juniors at the moment and the two tournaments will be good for the team. 

“We won the tournament in Poland with our Under-19 team last year and it will be good to go back there to defend the title. 

“In the tournament in Lahore, we will get to play at least four matches, including one against the Pakistani seniors. It will be good exposure.” 

The Junior Asia Cup, which will be held in Karachi, is also a qualifying tournament for the 2005 Junior World Cup. 

The MHF will be naming the full-time coach for the national junior team by the end of the week.  

They have interviewed three candidates for the job – former internationals Sarjit Singh, Tai Beng Hai and A. Arulselvaraj. 

Satgunam said that the new coach would review the training programme and also decide on the phases of training. 

“We are not sure when the Junior Asia Cup will be held. This will pose some problems for us but we need to get our training off the ground again immediately,” he said. 

There will also be a review on the selection of players for the training squad following the completion of the national junior hockey league. 

Besides the two international tournaments, the juniors are also likely to play in the Razak Cup tournament in October.  

They took part in the tournament for the last two years and emerged as the runners-up to Kuala Lumpur on both occasions. 

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