The Indian junior men’s hockey team will face Pakistan in the opening match of the 2023 Sultan of Johor Cup on October 27 in Johor, Malaysia.

The tournament also features eight teams in this edition instead of the customary six teams that it featured in previous editions.

Defending champions India have been placed in Pool B along with Malaysia, Pakistan, and New Zealand. Pool A will feature Germany, Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain.

The last time India faced Pakistan, they defeated them 2-1 in an intense Final at the men’s Junior Asia Cup. The Colts will go on to face Malaysia on October 28, followed by a contest with New Zealand on October 30 to conclude the group stage. They must ensure a top-two finish in Pool B to secure qualification for the semi-finals.

Captain Uttam Singh will be assisted by vice-captain Rajinder Singh in his endeavour to lead India to retain the title.

“We will aim for a strong start to our 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 campaign with a win against Pakistan and maintain consistency in our performances, all the way to the Finals,” said Uttam Singh about his expectations for the tournament.

“Everyone in the squad has worked hard to get to this stage and we will look to execute the game plan in every single match to the best of our abilities and reap the rewards of our hard work.”

The Indian junior men’s team have been in good form in the past year, winning the Junior Men’s Asia Cup and qualifying for the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup. They also put up good performances in the 4 Nations Tournament U21 Men in Germany recently.

The tournament will provide the team with an ideal opportunity to test their combinations and also assess the competing teams who will also feature in the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023.

“This tournament will also be a chance to gauge our standing against some of the top sides that are participating in the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023 as well,” said Uttam Singh.

“So, the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 will also help us fine-tune our tactics before a major tournament and put us in the best position to compete in the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023.”

Speaking about the upcoming tournament, the team coach CR Kumar said, “The selection committee has taken all previous tournaments into consideration to come up with a well-balanced team to compete and succeed in the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023.”

He continued: “We are looking to encourage and give an opportunity to players who have the skills to outperform the opponent, to play penetrative passes between lines. The tournament is also an opportunity to assess and understand six nations that will be heading to the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023 and it’s being played under the same climate conditions that we can expect at Kuala Lumpur in December.”

India’s schedule at the 2023 Sultan of Johor Cup

Friday, October 27 – India vs Pakistan, 1.35PM IST

Saturday, October 28 – India vs Malaysia, 6.30PM IST

Monday, October 30 – India vs New Zealand, 6.05PM IST

Indian men’s squad for the 2023 Sultan of Johor Cup

Goalkeepers: Mohith H S, Ranvijay Singh Yadav

Defenders: Amandeep Lakra, Rohit, Sunil Jojo, Sukhvinder, Amir Ali, Yogember Rawat

Midfielders: Vishnukant Singh, Poovanna C B, Rajinder Singh, Amandeep, Sunit Lakra, Abdul Ahad

Forwards: Uttam Singh, Arun Sahani, Aditya Lalage, Angad Bir Singh, Gurjot Singh, Sathish B.

Live Streaming for the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023 will be available on YouTube.