The Indian Junior Men's Hockey team will go up against hosts Malaysia in the opening match of the 8th Sultan of Johor Cup 2018 on Saturday. The team is led by Mandeep Mor while Shilanand Lakra has been handed the vice captaincy as they look to start the prestigious tournament on a winning note.
Last year India had beaten Malaysia 2-1 in a closely found round robin match. The duo faced off again but this time for the Bronze Medal classification match. This time the Indian team turned up with a full force and thrashed the hosts 4-0 to seal the Bronze medal.
"Playing the hosts in the first match is never easy because of the home ground support the opponents would enjoy. But I am confident if these boys play their natural game, we should do well," said Coach Jude Felix on the evening of the match.
"It is always important to begin the tournament with a win as it boosts the confidence and motivates the team to build on their performance as the event progresses. But having said that, many players will also be playing their first international match and they must shake off the initial jitters to play their natural game."
India will take on New Zealand in the second match that has been scheduled on Sunday before taking on Japan on October 9. The team will take on defending Champions Australia on 10 October and will play their very last round-robin match on 12 October against Great Britain.
Previously in 2017, India bagged an impressive high-scoring win (22-0) against
"According to me it's never about who we play but how well we play and we will go into the tournament with the mindset to play our best hockey and we have prepared well for this tournament and the players are certainly looking forward to the first match, from there on we will take one match at a time," expressed Felix.