Bengaluru, Oct 25: Indian junior men's hockey team embarked on a journey from Bengaluru to Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of Wednesday to participate in the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023, set to unfold in Johor, Malaysia, from October 27 to November 4.
Remarkably, India will head into the competition as the defending Champions, following their victory in the previous edition of this esteemed competition in 2022 when they triumphed over Australia in the final.
Notably, India are placed in Pool B alongside Malaysia, Pakistan, and New Zealand, while Pool A comprises Germany, Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain. With Captain Uttam Singh at the helm, assisted by Vice Captain Rajinder Singh, the Indian Team aspires to secure a top 2 finish in Pool B, thereby ensuring their passage to the Semi-Finals.
India will commence their campaign with a face-off against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 27, followed by a clash against hosts Malaysia on October 28. After a rest day, India will return to action on October 30, taking on New Zealand in their final Pool match.
"We are honoured to represent India as the defending Champions in the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup. It's a privilege to lead this talented group of players. Our focus is on maintaining the high standards we've set for ourselves and showing the world the spirit and skill of Indian hockey. We are well-prepared, and our goal is clear - to bring the trophy back home. The rivalry with Pakistan adds an extra layer of intensity to our campaign, and we're looking forward to a strong start against them," captain Uttam Singh said prior to the team's departure from Bengaluru.
Vice Captain Rajinder Singh also expressed his thoughts on the tournament and said, "As the Vice Captain, my role is to support Captain Uttam Singh and the team in every way possible. We have a great mix of experienced and young talent, and we're excited to take on this challenge. The Sultan of Johor Cup is a platform for us to showcase our abilities, and we're determined to defend our title with determination and teamwork. The tournament brings a level of competition that will push us to be our best."
"Furthermore, the Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 holds significant importance in our journey towards the FIH Hockey Men's Junior World Cup 2023 as it provides a vital opportunity for us to demonstrate our capabilities and readiness for the upcoming World Cup. So, we are eager to give our best," he added. (IANS)