Defending Champions India to bring a mixed team for the SOJC 2023

JOHOR BARU: Defending Champions India will have a bag of mixed team of experienced and fringe players for this year’s Sultan of Johor Cup.

The tournament played at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium from Oct 27-Nov 4, will feature eight teams for the first time since its inception in 2011.

Indian coach C. R. Kumar said yesterday that there were several experienced players who were injured and will be rested for this tournament.

“The objective for all teams here will be to test their squads and try out new players ahead of the Junior World Cup in December. As we have a few injured players, there will be an opportunity for fringe players to stake a claim for the Junior World Cup team.

“After all this tournament offers the last chance to all players to make the final squad,” he said.

The Junior World Cup will be held in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 5-16 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

 Besides India, the other teams from the Sultan of Johor Cup who will play in the Junior World Cup are Germany, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Pakistan.

This year’s tournament will see a two-group format instead of the usual round-robin.

India will also come into the tournament as one of the top-ranked teams in the world. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) released the ranking for the juniors for the first time in June.

Junior World Cup defending champions Argentina are the top-ranked team followed by Germany and India at number two and three respectively.

Malaysia is ranked number eight with Australia at number nine. The others are South Africa (10), New Zealand (11), Pakistan (13) and Great Britain (15).

Kumar said the Sultan of Johor Cup offers a good test against teams playing in the Junior World Cup.

“This is a good testing ground for all teams. It allows us to gauge their strength and see how they line up.

“I am sure that the experience here will benefit all teams going to the Junior World Cup,” he added,