# Malaysia play England in their opening match on Monday
# Manager Yahya hopes for luck in his homestate Johor
By Rizal Abdullah
Hosts Malaysia named their squad only on Saturday – the last team to do so – announce their squad for year’s Sultan of Johor Cup six nation Under-21 Invitational tournament which begins at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Monday.
After missing on qualifying for this year’s Junior World Cup Finals in Lucknow, India from Dec 8-18, Malaysia hope to do well in the sixth edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup.
Malaysia are banking on 10 players from last year’s squad and redeem their battered pride in the Junior Asia Cup which took a beating last year.
Australia, England, Japan, New Zealand and Pakistan – the other five teams competing in the Sultan of Johor Cup – are using the tournament to fine tune their team for the World Cup.
“We have a mission in Johor Bahru and are out to proof that we are worthy alongside these countries that are going for the world meet,” said Malaysia team manager Yahya Atan, a former Olympian who hails from Johor Bahru.
“These are the next batch of Malaysian players and those who will don national colours in the Sultan of Johor Cup must proof that they want to be contention for the senior team someday.”
“We did not have the best of preparations but we have the depth to face the challenge for honours in Johor Bahru. We have three players who played in the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan.”
The trio are Muhammad Najmi Farizal Jazlan, Muhammad Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad and Nik Muhammad Nik Rozemi.
Malaysia open their campaign against England on Monday. England is made up of players who played under the Great Britain banner last year and will be tough side for the Malaysians. Great Britain defeated India in last year’s final 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
The England match will be followed by matches against Australia on Tuesday and Pakistan on Wednesday before the rest day on Thursday. The remaining matches are against Japan on Friday and wind up their preliminary round matches with a match against New Zealand on Saturday.
The final and other classification matches are scheduled for Sunday on Nov 6.
A majority of the Malaysian players in the squad competed in the recent named a number of players that competed in the AHL. Among them are Rizwan Azmi, Firdaus Omar, Lukman Nur Hakim, Nor Azmi Rahman, Syed Shafiq Syed Choulan, Amirul Aideed, Ashran Hamsani, Rafizul Ezry Mustafa and Norsyafiq Sumantri.
Malaysia have also named 16-year-olds Arif Syafie Ishak and Akhimullah Anuar Esook.
The SOJC is the final tournament for teams to get their act together before the Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India in December. Malaysia will only feature in the tournament if any of the four Asian teams that have qualified pulled out.
Malaysia Squad: Rizwan Azmi, Zaimi Mat Deris, Luqman Nul Hakim Ahmad Shukran, Firdaus Omar, Najib Hassan, Najmi Farizal Jazlan, Zalupidaus Mizun, Rozaini Baharom, Syed Mohamad Syafiq Syed Cholan, Amrirol Aideed Arshad, Arif Syafie Ishak, Ashran Hamsani, Rafizul Ezry Mustafa, Firdaus Fauzi, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Nik Muhammad Aiman Nik Rozemi, Hafiizhuddin Zaidi, Akhimullah Anuar Esook, Abdul Khaliq Hammirin, Zulhamizan Awang Abas.
Meanwhile, England team manager Paul Gannon fired the first salvo when he said his team is not only good enough to retain the title in Johor Bahru but is also good enough to win the Junior World Cup in India..
“We have come 13 players who played for Great Britain when we won the title. In fact 18 of the World Cup players are also here,” said Gannon.