KUALA LUMPUR: Germany is thankful for not being drawn into Group A of the Junior World Cup (JWC), which starts on Tuesday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Coach Eijk van Rein, who led Germany to victory in last month’s Sultan of Johor Cup (SoJC), stated that with defending champions Argentina and Australia in Group A, the tournament will be challenging for hosts Malaysia and Chile. Germany, the most successful team in the JWC with six titles, is in Group B with France, South Africa, and Egypt and is expected to top the group.
“It will be hard work for every team to break into the quarter-finals, so, luckily, Germany did not get drawn into Group A,” stated Van Rein, whose team held Australia to a 0-0 draw in the SoJC final and secured the title in a 3-1 shootout. And what did the Germans do post-SoJC?
Captain Matteo Poljaric explained, “When we returned, the weather was too cold for outdoor play, so we trained on our indoor artificial pitch.”
“It’s pleasant being in Kuala Lumpur; it’s cloudy but still a bit warm for us. However, it’s not as warm as when we were in Johor.”
“We’re not nervous; we just want to kick off our JWC campaign as soon as possible.”
Germany fondly remembers Malaysia, securing three JWC victories in 1982 (KL), 1989 (Ipoh), and 2009 (Johor-Singapore), while the seniors clinched the 2002 World Cup at the same venue in Bukit Jalil.
“Malaysia has always been a good venue for us. We hope to secure our seventh title here,” added Van Rein.
On Tuesday, Germany will face South Africa in their opening Group B match.