FORMER Olympian Nor Saiful Zaini named 18 under-16 players Friday for the Whitsun Cup in Mannheim, Germany, on May 13-16 as Malaysia embark on a journey towards the 2020 Junior World Cup.
The boys were selected after the recent National Under-16 tournament, and underwent a four-day training in Ipoh during the Azlan Shah Cup.
In Mannheim, they will play against Netherlands, German Under-16 and German Under-17.
This is an invitational tournament where Malaysia were left out for the last two editions. However, Malaysia finished second behind Germany in the Whitsun Cup when it made its debut in 2010.
"We selected a pool of 30 from the National Under-16 tournament and after four days in Ipoh, the 18 were selected for Mannheim. These are the cream of the crop, but they lack international experience and would get their first taste against two German teams and the Netherlands," said Saiful Zaini.
Only three players have seen action overseas, when they played for 1Mas in the FHE Cup in Perth last year.
Midfielders Pavandip Singh s/o Gurdip Singh and Akram Hakkam; and goalkeeper Hamiz Ahir helped 1Mas become champions in the tournament by beating Western Australia Heat 1-0 in the final.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation CEO K. Logan Raj said: "The MHC reiterates its commitment towards development and the formulation of a strong team for the Junior World Cup 2020.
"It is then imperative to understand that results, although significant, currently takes a back seat to the overall plan."
No targets were set for the boys, as Saiful Zaini was more inclined towards blooding the boys.
"This will be a first international tournament for 15 of my players so I will not focus on results. Of course we will aim to finish as high as possible, but going into the tournament with no knowledge of the two German teams as well as Netherlands, we will have to play by ear during each match," said Saiful Zaini.
MALAYSIAN Under-16: Goalkeepers: Hamiz Ahir, Helmi Fazli; Defenders: Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin, Zulfitri Zin, Arif Syafie.
Midfielders: Pavandip Singh s/o Gurdip Singh, Amirul Hamizan, Akram Hakkam, Granson Noel, Faiz Aiman, Zafri Afiq, Syarman Mat Tee.
Forwards: Haridzmi Nizam, Noor Firdaus Rosdi, Muhibuddin Moharam, Syamin Naim, Saifuddin Azli, Akhimullah Anuar.
Coach: Nur Saiful Zaini; Assistant Coach: Sufian Mohamed.