JOHOR BARU: Former two-time champions Australia believe they have a well-balanced team to compete and succeed in this year’s Sultan of Johor Cup. The Australians, winners in 2016 and 2017, will be playing in their 10th SOJC. The Australians in June toured Europe and have made four changes to the team.The Australian national juniors coach Jay Stacy said events this year carry extra significance as part of their preparation for the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup in early December in Kuala Lumpur.

There are four new faces to the team that completed a European tour in June.Diarmid Chappell, Will Mathison, Lachlan Rogers, and Hamish Adamson are the new additions while another important player 17-year-old ace Toby Mallon will miss the tournament due to exams. With just over two months until the Junior World Cup, Stacy added that the selection panel has considered all previous events and the National U21 Championships. He said the SOJC offers another good platform for the players to prove themselves and aim for a Junior World Cup place. “We are still looking to provide opportunity for players to perform on the international stage and to select the Junior World Cup team,” said Stacy, commenting on Hockey Australia website. “This tournament will hold some weight in the selection process. We are up against seven nations also heading to the Junior World Cup and it’s being played in identical climate conditions to Kuala Lumpur in December. “We’re looking for flexibility within the squad so we’re giving opportunity to some players to showcase their talents “he added.

Although the SOJC offers a learning curve to the players, Stacy also said they are competitive enough to try and win the title again. “On completion of our six matches in Johor, we want to be in a position to put all of the pieces of the selection puzzle together to come up with a very competitive team at the Junior World Cup.” The Australians suffered a nail-biting loss in the Final of last year’s Sultan of Johor Cup, going down 5-4 to India in a shootout.

For the first time in the tournament’s history, this year’s edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup will feature eight teams instead of six. The teams have been divided into two pools of four, with the Australians in Pool A alongside Germany, Great Britain, and South Africa. Pool B has India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Pakistan. The top two teams at the end of the pool stage will progress to the semi-finals, with the winners to play in the Final.

Team Australia

Nathan Czinner, Dylan Downey, Michael Taylor, Diarmid Chappell, Noah Fahy, Will Mathison, Max Larkin, Lachlan Rogers, Cooper Burns, Liam Henderson, Craig Marais, Nye Roberts, Angus Adamson, Hamish Adamson. Brodee Foster, Max Freedman, Cambell Geddes, Oliver Higgins.