Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod has announced a squad of 21 players for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Invitational Tournament being held in Kuala Lumpur in early May.
Eighteen players will be selected from this squad with a number of players that competed in the recent Malaysia Airlines Golden Summer Series being named, including James Coughlan who made his debut during this series.
“The Azlan Shah is a top international tournament that will give us the chance to play against teams that we are likely to compete against at next year’s Olympics. We have selected players that performed well in the Summer Series so that we can provide exposure to new players and build depth,” says McLeod.
Other teams competing in the tournament include Australia, Great Britain, Korea, Pakistan, India and Malaysia.
The team will be bolstered by the return of veterans Dean Couzins, Kyle Pontifex and Phil Burrows who were unavailable for the Malaysia Airlines Summer Series against Korea and Belgium. Experienced striker Gareth Brooks returns to the national programme and has been named in this squad.
“Gareth’s professional attitude towards the game and the support he can provide to the younger talented forward group will be a great asset to the team,” says McLeod.
Current Black Sticks squad members Blair Hopping, Bradley Shaw and Ryan Archibald were unavailable for selection.
“Over the next six weeks we are aiming to develop some of the younger players in the team, and we will be particularly focused on game development so they learn more about our structures and tactics. Azlan Shah gives players a great opportunity to play against a range of top teams and learn about different playing styles,” says McLeod.
The Azlan Shah, from 5 – 15 May, is the first international tournament for the Black Sticks Men as they build to the 2012 London Olympics.
Click here to view the roster
Source New Zealand hockey press release
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