KUALA LUMPUR: Kavin Karthik is the surprise inclusion in the Project 2013 team for the Sultan of Johor Cup which starts at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Baru tomorrow.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School player had earlier been dropped from the training squad despite being one of the most talented and experienced players.
He will give the team more options in the absence of star players Faisal Saari and Mohamed Firhan Azhaari who are with the national senior team.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) named the final 18 players after a training match against New Zealand last night.
Other than Kavin, there are no surprises as most of those selected are regulars.
The team will be led by Mohamed Noor Faeez Ibrahim. who has been captain since the Asian Under-18 tournament in Myanmar.
Providing some steel and experience will be Faiz Helmy, Amir Farid and Fitri Saari who have all trained and played with the national team.
Project coach K. Dharmaraj is confident that his charges will hold their own against some tough opposition in the tournament which also features Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Korea.
“We have a good blend of players but we will miss Faisal and Firhan as they are influential players who can turn a match around,” said Dharmaraj.
“The tournament will be a good preparation for the Junior Asia Cup, in Malacca next May, which serves as a qualifier for the 2013 Junior World Cup.”
On the top two target set by the MHF, Dharma conceded that it was a tall order but vowed they would go all out to achieve it.
The Malaysians play Australia in the opening match tomorrow, followed by the tie against New Zealand on Sunday.