Johor Baru (31 Oct, 2016): Malaysia’s Under-21 Junior team manager Yahya Atan wants his players to emulate the performance of the seniors in the just concluded 4th Asian Champions Trophy when they open their campaign in the Sultan of Johor Cup against England at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in this southern city of Malaysia today.
“We are the underdogs against a strong field in the SOJC. There is no denying about that and I have told the players to increase their level of performance just as the seniors played in the ACT in Kuantan,” said Yahya in Johor Baru today.
“We must stay positive throughout the tournament and our target is to finish among the top four teams and qualify for the semi-finals. From then on we will decide our next move. But qualifying for the semis is our first option,” he added.
The Malaysia Tigers coached by Stephen van Huizen defeated Korea 3-2 in shootout to win the bronze medal for the fourth consecutive time since the inaugural edition in Ardos, China in 2011.
Malaysia is the only team in this sixth edition of the six-nation Sultan of Johor Cup that failed to qualify for the Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India in December. Australia, Japan, Pakistan and New Zealand will feature in the Junior World Cup and the SOJC is a platform in their preparation for Lucknow. The Japanese are making their debut in the tournament.
“We did not qualify after missing out the ticket to Lucknow in the Asian Junior Championship in Kuantan last year and it is time for the players to make amends and prove critics wrong,” said Yahya.
Najib Abu Hasan, who captained the Malaysian team at the Asian Junior championships last year in Kuantan, Nazmi Farizal Jazlan and Nik Aiman Rozemi – all three who featured in the 4th Asian Champions Trophy that concluded on Sunday, have joined the juniors in Johor Baru.
Malaysia, who finished third last year, will open their campaign against England on Oct 31, followed by matches against Australia (Nov 1), Pakistan (Nov 2), Japan (Nov 4) and New Zealand (Nov 5). The final and playoff matches will be held on Nov 6.
Great Britain defeated India 4-3 in sudden death penalty shootout in the 2015 final of the SOJC after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Australia will kick-start the tournament here today against Japan while New Zealand takes on Pakistan and the Malaysians play Britons in the last match of the day.
Pakistan, the once Asian hockey powerhouse, will be aiming for success in the Sultan of Johor Cup having finished at the bottom of the table in the last two editions. Pakistan also finished last in the 2011 inaugural edition and came in fourth in 2012 and 21013.
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