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The Indian junior hockey team's preparations for next year's World Cup will begin with the upcoming second Sultan Johor Cup, according to coach Baljit Singh Saini. India will seek to break a 12-year-old drought in the world event it is scheduled to host.
They had last won the trophy back in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. Saini felt that his team has the best chance to repeat the feat in front of the home crowd. "Our main target now is WC 2013. Johor Cup is the best platform to judge where we stand today as teams like Germany, Australia and Pakistan are participating. It will be a tough tournament for sure." he told PTI before leaving for Malaysia. Punjab midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead the 18-member Indian team in the tournament from 11 to 18 November. India had finished fourth in the inaugural edition of the tournament.
"Rather than winning, we want to judge our strategies and strength. We want to find out our weaknesses. We have planned something for the WC and we want to assess that," said the two-time Olympian.
The team will begin its campaign against Australia and senior team coach Micheal Nobbs has helped in preparing. "We have many videos of Pakistani and Malaysian junior teams but did not have any of Australian and New Zealand teams. Nobbs has given us some tips about Australian style of play and how to counter that," Saini said while commenting about Nobbs tips to the youngsters .
Saini also said that all his players are full of confidence and prepared well in the two camps prior to the tournament.
"Four of my players are part of the senior team which will tour Australia for the Super Series and Champions Trophy. Their selection in senior team has enhanced their confidence and they want to prove their worth. Others are also equally good and confident." said Saini while speaking with media persons on Friday.