India’s chief hockey coach Michael Nobbs does not have high expectations from his squad in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia but said that the tournament would serve as an ideal platform for identifying players for the Junior World Cup scheduled later this year.
With an aim to build a strong reserve pool, India has fielded a squad full of juniors for the Azlan Shah Cup and rested six of its senior players, including regular skipper Sardar Singh.
Nobbs said the main idea behind this decision to field an under-strength team was to prepare the youngsters for the FIH Junior World Cup to be held in India later this year.
“We had some objectives in mind when we selected the team for the Azlan Shah Cup. Our main aim is to build a strong team for the Junior World Cup, and this can be achieved only by giving as much international exposure as possible to the junior players,” Nobbs told PTI before leaving for Ipoh, Malaysia.
Tough international hockey
“Mandeep’s (Singh) performance in the Hockey World League is a prime example of the fact that junior players need development. Mandeep found international hockey tougher than Hockey India League. He has got talent but requires development,” he said.
Nobbs said junior team coach Baljit Saini will also be accompanying the team for the Azlan Shah Cup.
Nobbs said with a long season ahead, it was also imperative to give rest to some of the already-exhausted senior players.