KUALA LUMPUR: The Poland International Junior hockey invitational tournament will be the key to the style of play the National Juniors will adopt for the Junior World Cup.
Sarjit Singh, making his debut as Juniors coach at the Poznan tournament from Aug 18-23, said the playing style would be fixed after the tournament so the players could get used to it before the Junior Asia Cup next year.
This tournament is the qualifying round for the World Cup proper in 2005.
“We are presently playing the same system as the national team. This is easier to do as many of the players in the squad have trained with the senior team. But our main concern is whether the players can combine and play effectively as a team with the current system.
“The players last played together as a team in the Junior Invitational meet held in January here in KL. This tournament is only their second this year,'' said Sarjit.
The former international said it was also a test for him as the tournament would show whether the players have understood what he taught them.
“I need to know what they have learnt in the training. We have only had a short training stint so far. The players' performance will be able to give me a good idea what sort of work we need to do in the coming months,'' he added.
The Malaysians are defending champions at the Poland meet. But they are not expecting an easy time this time around as Pakistan and India have accepted the invitation to play as well.
“It is certainly going to be tougher. But we have an experienced set of players and they will certainly be determined to prove themselves,'' he said.
The Malaysians left for Poland last night. They had initially been placed in Group A with Germany, Pakistan and a Polish Division One club. Group B had hold India, France, Poland and Egypt.
Yesterday, though, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) received a call saying the tournament may be a six-nation meet.
“If there are six teams, then I think the tournament will played in a round robin format,'' said MHF secretary S. Satgunam.
After the Poland meet, the national juniors will play in the Razak Cup competition in October and then a five-nation meet in Pakistan in December.