New Straits Times
Malaysia ready for battle
played two friendlies leading up to the Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC), and coach Nor Saiful Zaini said his charges are shaping up well to put up a good fight in the eighth edition.
The SOJC will be held at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru from tomorrow onwards, with six teams challenging for the title.
The six are defending champions Britain, Australia, India, New Zealand, Japan and Malaysia.
“We had a final preparation playing in China against club sides recently, and back home, we lost 1-0 to Australia and held Britain to a scoreless draw (not full matches).
“The team is ready to do battle, as we look to finish higher than the fourth placing achieved last year,” said Nor Saiful.
Last year, Malaysia were hammered 4-0 by India in the battle for bronze, while Australia beat Britain 2-0 to take the coveted gold.
Australia juniors coach Ben Bishop said on Hockey Australia’s website: “The Sultan of Johor Cup is an excellent junior international tournament that we thrive to compete in each year.
“We have performed well in this tournament since its inception, especially over the last two years by winning gold.
“This year we aim to expose more athletes to the rigours of an international touring opportunity while providing a rewarding and enduring hockey experience.”
India coach Jude Felix said on Hockey India’s website: “Last year we had taken a fresh team with almost the whole side playing their first international tournament.
“However, as the tournament progressed, I certainly felt that we could have made the final and it was disappointing to end up with a bronze medal.
“However, this time round, while we have ten players playing in an international tournament for the first time, we will be banking on the eight players who have had the experience from the last SOJC as well as having played a fair bit of international matches.
Malaysia will start the tournament by going up against India tomorrow.