Australian under 21 Men’s Hockey team captain and Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Craig Marais believes that the Burras remain on track to challenge for the Junior World Cup title despite a shoot-out loss to Germany in the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup last Saturday.
Marais led into the final a team undefeated in the qualifying rounds of the tournament but endured shoot-out heartache for the second consecutive year, with the Germans prevailing 3-1.
In the 2022 tournament, the Burras lost 5-4 to India in a shoot-out to decide the champion.
Nonetheless, with the Junior World Cup starting in Kuala Lumpur in early December, Marais believes that the performances in Johor bode well.
“This tournament was great preparation and we took a lot of learnings from it that will only benefit us heading into the Junior World Cup,” Marais said.
“The (Johor) final was a pretty cool match to be a part of. It was a disappointing way to finish after the boys put in such a great shift and had a really good tournament, but this experience will hold us in good stead for what is to come.”
Marais was one of four VIS athletes in the team for Johor, which was coached by VIS hockey coach and former Kookaburra, Jay Stacy.
One of the four, Cooper Burns, scored four goals in the tournament to finish joint second on the scoring table.
All four players, Marais, Burns, Liam Henderson and Nye Roberts have also been named in the 20-player team for the Junior World Cup.
VIS Performance Analyst, Mat Harris, and Physical Preparation Coach, Ben King, were part of the support team who travelled to Johor and Harris will continue on to Kuala Lumpar in December.
From the 20 players selected, the final 18 who will travel to Kuala Lumpur will be announced in 17 November, as well as the two non-travelling reserves.