THE Project 2013 squad will get an early boost when they travel to Europe and play a series of matches against European Junior World Cup Qualifier teams.
Malaysia has already qualified for the Junior World Cup, to be held in November next year in New Delhi, after they became champions in the Malacca Junior Asia Cup.
“I will be taking at least 20 players who will be eligible to play in the Junior World Cup next year, and leave out those who helped in the Junior Asia Cup but will be overage for New Delhi,” said Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj.
Traveling at the end of July, the first stop will be Valencia, Spain, where they will play two matches against Spain Juniors, two against France Juniors, two against Belgium Juniors, and one against a Netherlands Division One side.
After that, they depart for Poland where two matches will be played against the Polish juniors and then the seniors.
“The timing is just right as we will play teams who will be preparing for the European Juniors Nations Championship (a World Cup Qualifier starting on July 26) and so we are assured of playing quality matches,” said Dharmaraj.
However, after they return and play in the Sultan of Johor Cup, Dharmaraj will include the six players who will be overage for the World Cup.
“I need the six players to keep the Sultan of Johor Cup trophy in Malaysia. As the defending champions, we must have the best players available for the second edition.
“We still have ample time to prepare the Junior World Cup players, and in the 2013 Sultan of Johor Cup which is expected to be held one month before the Junior World Cup, I will get a chance to field the World Cup proper team,” said Dharmaraj.
On tour attachments for his charges: “Faizal (Saari) has already secured a spot with Athletico Madrid and will play in the European Hockey League. And 16 other players also have been selected to join European Clubs, but it all depends on when the MHC (Malaysia Hockey Confederation) decide to hold the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League).
“The calendar for the MHL this year is still not out yet, and if it clashes with the EHL, then we will not be able to send juniors to Europe attachments, as they already have con tracts with clubs in Malaysia,” said Dharmaraj.