Sultan of Johor Cup: India to open campaign against Malaysia

The Indian team, led by Mandeep Mor, is determined to win the U-21 tournament this time.

The Indian team, photographed before departing India for the Sultan of Johor Cup, on October 7.   -  PTI

Eyes firmly set on completing last year’s unfinished task, a determined Indian team will open its campaign against host Malaysia in the ninth Sultan of Johor Cup here on Saturday.

India, led by talented defender Mandeep Mor, will look to start the prestigious U-21 tournament on a winning note. After a good performance in the round-robin stage last year, India lost to Great Britain in the final. This year, the Indians would be eager to go one step further.

India defeated Malaysia 2-1 in its opening match last year before registering convincing wins over New Zealand, Japan and Australia. But Great Britain proved to be a thorn in the flesh for the Indians; the side lost 2-3 in the last round-robin match before succumbing again in the final.

‘Determined’

“We did win the silver medal in the last edition but we were not satisfied at all. We felt we were the best team in the tournament, and our performances in the round-robin stages showed that. But eventually we lost two matches against Great Britain narrowly. This year we are determined to produce consistent performances and win the tournament,” said Mandeep.

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The team wishes to start on a positive note. “It is a huge tournament at the junior level. We start against the hosts, and we are hoping we can repeat last year’s feat as we beat them 2-1 to start our campaign on a positive note. We have worked hard in the national camp and the team is really excited to produce quality performances here.”

India and Malaysia have faced each other on 10 previous occasions since 2011 at the junior level, out of which the Indians have won the last seven matches. Malaysia, on the other hand, only registered one win while two matches ended in draws.

The ninth Sultan of Johor will feature the same six teams from last edition. After Malaysia, India will play New Zealand on October 13, Japan on October 15, Australia on October 16, and Great Britain on October 18.