Inexperienced Junior Indian Hockey Team to face tough competition in Sultan of Johor Cup
The inexperienced Junior Indian hockey team will face tough competition when it will take on South Korea in the event-opening match of the Sultan of Johor Cup, scheduled to be played on November 5, in Malaysia.
The inaugural Under-21 tournament is featuring teams from New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea and India.
The tournament is the first major step in the preparation of the Indian Junior hockey team for the 2013 Junior World Cup, to be hosted at their home-soil, India.
It will be a stiff test for Mukesh Kumar, the Chief Coach, and his two assistants, Sandeep Sangwan and Lajrus Barla. It is pertinent to mention here that this event will be the first international assignment for the entire coaching staff.
Apart from the lack of exposure of the Indian squad, the absence of Gurjinder Singh will be a major setback for the line-up.
Gurjinder Singh, the skipper of the junior squad, dropped out at the eleventh hour, after suffering an ankle-injury he received during the practice games.
Although Harpreet Singh replaced Gurjinder Singh, the former is not considered to be capable enough to fill the space of the latter at the backline.
The immature defence-line will be a major point of concern for the coach as well as his assistants, Lajrus Barla and Sandeep Sangwan.
Barla while speaking to the media said that they were looking forward to improvements in the line-up with the passage of time.
He observed, “Not only have the defenders, the whole team lacked experience. It’s their first tournament but things will improve once the ball starts rolling here. We have Amit Rohidas and Sampath Kumar as other defenders who have been regularly practicing
in the camp. Therefore, we should not have much problem”.
As an assistant coach, Barla is also responsible for training the Indian custodians. He commented that the two goalkeepers, Harmanpreet Singh and Naveen Kumar Prasad, were at their best and will deliver wonderful performances in the tournament.
Besides the assistants, the event will be a hard assignment for Mukesh Kumar as well. Although Mukesh has the experience of domestic clubs of Malaysia, it will be a completely different challenge.
Although the Indian team has a spot in the Junior World Cup, it will have to show its true potential in the invitation edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup to justify its position.