Hockey Sultan of Johor Cup 2016

# Last year’s Best Goalkeeper Chris Wyver is in the team

# Coach Bleby hopes to finalise his Junior World Cup after SOJC


By Rizal Abdullah

The Fairplay Trophy was scant consolation for England in their Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational tournament debut in 2013 – and they finished last in the six-nation tournament.

The next two years saw the English competing under the flag of Great Britain and the team did well to finish runners-up to India in 2014 after losing 2-1 to the Indians in the final.

Last year Great Britain turned the tables on India and denied the Indians from completing a hat-trick of titles. In the final Great Britain walked away with a 4-3 win in a nail-biting penalty shootout.

It is back to the England flag this year and coach Jon Bleby is hoping that his team will not only find the rhythm but also give him what he is looking for – to pick his team for this year’s Junior World Cup Finals which will be held in India from Dec 8-18.

After finishing last in the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2013 the English team could only manage a dismal 14th in the Junior World Cup Finals, also in India, the same year.

Bleby and players like James Gall and Chris Proctor hope the journey to Taman Daya this year will be more meaningful – to bring the Sultan of Johor Cup back apart from a better showing in India in the Junior World Cup Finals in December.

The trio were part of the English set-up in 2013 and Proctor and several others were also part of the Great Britain side that won the Sultan of Johor Cup last year.

However, some of those who played a major role in the win in Johor Bahru are not in the team this year.

Among them are Ed Horler, James Albery, Jonty Griffiths and now-overaged Luke Taylor. Taylor was the tournament’s scorer last year with 10 goals. However, Chris Wyver – voted the Best Goalkeeper last year, is in the team.

Gall, who is among the handful 20 years and above players Bleby has named for the tournament, is perhaps lucky to even be on the pitch again after a career threatening fall in July 2015.

Gall fell on his head in an accident, suffered a fractured skull which caused severe swelling to the brain, and fractured his spine. But he is now back in shape to lead England’s cause in Johor Bahru.

England qualified for the Junior World Cup Finals after finishing third at the 2014 Euro Hockey Junior Nations Championship – the first time they finished on the podium since 1998.

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