Melbourne: Hockey Australia (HA) Thursday announced an 18-man squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia, from March 13-23.
Three-time Olympian and 2004 Athens Games gold medallist Liam De Young is set to become only the fourth Australian to make 300 appearances for the Kookaburras after being named in the squad. He will join Jay Stacy (321 caps), Brent Livermore (317) and fellow Queenslander Jamie Dwyer (308) as a member of the ‘300 club’.
Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden – a two-time Olympic bronze medallist and World Cup winner – will make his 200th appearance while Victorian Glenn Simpson will reach a century of matches for Australia.
Five-time World Player of the Year Dwyer returns to the line-up, having been rested for the World League Finals while goalkeeper Andrew Charter, Simpson, Matt Gohdes, Rob Hammond, Mitton and Andrew Philpott were recalled to the team. Penalty corner specialist Chris Ciriello also returns having been withdrawn from the World League squad after suffering from a torn calf.
“The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is our last tournament before the World Cup and the squad has been picked with that in mind. We’ve selected based on a range of objectives, including load management. We’ve got athletes that have played in the Oceania Cup, World League Finals and Hockey India League and we need to look after them with both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games coming up,” head coach Ric Charlesworth said.
Gunning for a record eighth title as they defend their 2013 crown, the Kookaburras will face Canada, China, Korea, South Africa and hosts Malaysia in the 23rd edition of the competition.
Charlesworth added that despite the recent withdrawal of Pakistan, the now six team tournament has the quality to test Australia.
“It’s unfortunate that a couple of teams (Pakistan and France) had to pull out but the likes of Korea, Malaysia and South Africa in particular are quality teams that will be at the World Cup.”
The squad: Daniel Beale, Nick Budgeon, Andrew Charter (goalkeeper), Chris Ciriello, Liam De Young, Jamie Dwyer, Russell Ford, Matt Gohdes, Rob Hammond, Jeremy Hayward, Mark Knowles, Tyler Lovell (goalkeeper), Trent Mitton, Eddie Ockenden, Andrew Philpott, Glenn Simpson, Jake Whetton, Tristan White.
Australia name Sultan Azlan Shah Cup squad