# Do not under-rate debutants Japan in SOJC
# With five seniors in the team Japan are the dark horse
# Japan will play in only their second Junior World Cup Finals
By Rizal Abdullah
Japan are making their debut in the Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 Invitational tournament but do not write off the newcomers in the six-nation meet.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics hosts, in fact, have embarked on a long journey for the next Olympics and the sixth edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup, an annual affair, could not have come at a better time.
Japan will also be competing in this year’s Junior World Cup Finals in India from Dec 8-18. It is only the second time the Japanese will be playing in the world meet. Their first was in 2009.
Japan are among the five nations playing in the Sultan of Johor Cup to be held in at the Taman Daya Hockeyt Stadium in Johor Bahru, who will be playing in the Junior World Cup Finals. The odd team out is Malaysia after they failed to make the world meet.
Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, England and Japan are all using the Sultan of Johor Cup as a platform to give their players a run before the Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India in December.
Japan have come to Johor Bahru with five experienced players who have earned caps with the seniors squad. They are Miyu Tanimitsu (defender), Shuhei Hatano (defender), Shinichi Kamezaki (midfielder), Kaito Tanaka (midfielder) and Koji Yamasaki (forward).
They are among the players to take note at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru when Japan open their Sultan of Johor Cup campaign with a tough match against Australia on October 31.
For sure Japan will not be short of support in the stands as there is a large Japanese community in Johor Bahru.