Hockey: England face test in the tropics

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND open the Five Nations Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament here this evening when they play Malaysia in what could be a very difficult game.

Although, on their track record, England should have little difficulty beating their hosts, their form left much to be desired when they played Germany twice at Bisham Abbey at the beginning of the week. England looked lethargic against the Germans and will have the added disadvantage of the expected high humidity in Malaysia.

With 13 of the 16 required already confirmed for the World Cup squad, for Sydney in November, there will be particular interest in the performance of John Shaw, of Southgate, returning after a knee operation, and Andy Humphrey, of Hull - the leading contenders for the last two places. The already selected goalkeeper, David Luckes, misses out on this trip with a hamstring injury and is replaced by the uncapped Jimmy Lewis, of Havant.

Against the Germans, there was plenty of constructive midfield play but woeful finishing. Pressure will be on the strikers to get among the goals, with Bobby Crutchley hoping to recapture his scoring form against club opposition.

Malaysia, who, after a disappointing performance under their Australian coach, Terry Walsh, finished ninth in the Barcelona Olympics, will be appearing at home under their new German coach, Volker Knapp, of Limburg, for the first time.

South Africa, whom England play in their third game on Tuesday, also have a new coach. The former England international, Gavin Featherstone, who directed Oxford University into the National League, will be in charge for the first time and will be desperately keen to prove a point over England, who have consistently ignored his undoubted coaching talents.

Australia and Pakistan, who complete the line-up, are favourites for the final.

ENGLAND SQUAD: R Crutchley; S Hazlitt, J Potter (Hounslow), R Garcia (Polo Barcelona), A Humphrey (Hull), S Nicklin, J Laslett (capt), P McGuire (Teddington), J Halls, N Thompson (Old Loughtonians), S Mason (Firebrands), J Shaw, S Singh (Southgate), C Mayer (Cannock), J Lewis, D Williams (Havant).

Today's fixtures: England v Malaysia; Australia v South Africa.

Tomorrow: Pakistan v Malaysia.

INTERNATIONAL (Bisham Abbey): Great Britain XI 2 Germany 1. Germany win series

2-1.

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