NATIONAL Juniors coach K. Rajan will take take 26 players to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney from Jan 14-18, as a string of friendlies are also on the cards.
Malaysia will be up against Junior World Cup silver medallists Australia, Great Britain and India in the quad rangular, which is an important run-up to the Junior World Cup.
“Since the tournament is an under-20 event, the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) decided that 26 players will be taken on the Tour, and play in a series of friendlies before and after the Youth Olympic Festival,” said Rajan.
The team will leave on Jan 7, and have arranged for friendlies with the New South Wales Institute of Sports and the Australian Under-20 side until the tournament proper starts.
“In the Youth Festival, we will first play Great Britain, then Australia and the final round-robbin match is against India, who replaced New Zealand.
“The top-two teams will play in the final, while the other two will play for the bronze medal.”
After the tournament, the Juniors will again be involved in friendlies and return home on Jan 24.
Malaysia and Singapore will co-host the Junior World Cup, an Under-21 event, on June 7-21.
The 20 teams which have qualified for the World Cup are defending champions Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Poland, Russia, Chile, US and New Zealand.
“I already have a picture of the first-11, and they will be tested to the limit in the friendlies and tournament. It will also be an avenue for the reserves and back-up players to prove themselves,” said Rajan.