JOHOR BARU: New Zealand will be making their seventh appearance in the Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC) and are hoping to make the podium for the first time. Their best finish in the tournament was fourth place achieved in 2014 in the six-nation meet. This year the tournament will see eight teams in the fray for the first time. It will be held at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium from Oct 27-Nov 4. New Zealand will have India, Malaysia and Pakistan in their Group B fixtures.

The Kiwis have named their SOJC team with one senior player, Benji Culhane, in their ranks. They also have two other senior players in the team but George Baker and Charles Morrison, will not travel to Johor Baru. They will, however, be on the flight for the Junior World Cup which will be held in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 5-16. Team manager Sunjay Ganda said that their aim is to use the SOJC to finalise their team for the Junior World Cup and provide playing opportunities for the fringe players. “For the team this is the first opportunity they have had to travel out of New Zealand this year. So, the experience will be immense. “We want to give as much playing time for the players and also to try out our tactical play as well,” he added.

The team will arrive in Johor Baru on Oct 24 and have a friendly match arranged with Indonesia. The Kiwis will play the opening match against host Malaysia on Oct 27. They clash with Pakistan the next day. Both New Zealand and Pakistan are also in the same group at the Junior World Cup. “I am sure it will be a good test for both teams. In fact, with seven of the teams here in Johor also playing in the Junior World Cup, the competition will be tough,” said Sunjay. Only Great Britain have not qualified for the Junior World Cup.

Team New Zealand:

Luke Aldred, Benji Culhane, Scott Cosslett, Luke Holmes, Luke Elmes, Aiden Fraser, Hayden Ganley, James Hickson, Josh Irwin, Sam Lints, Thomas Marchant, Ryan Parr, Daniel Torr, Patrick Ward, Jordan Whittleston, Matthew Wilson, Gus Nelson, Aiden Bax.