Singapore, Feb 12: Singapore will host nine top hockey nations with former champions Australia, Germany and India headlining the list of illustrious teams coming to its shores when the 9th Men's Junior Hockey World Cup group stages takes place during June 7-21.
The other countries include traditional hockey powerhouse Netherlands, who last finished 4th in 1993, New Zealand, Poland, Chile, Japan and South Africa.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced the four groups for the 20-team competition, and the Republic has been drawn in Group D, which includes challenging ties against the Netherlands and 2001's champion in India in its first two matches.
A major double-header hockey fans would be looking forward to on 11 June will be Group B's tie between four-time champion Germany and 1997's champion Australia after the Group A clash between the Netherlands and India.
Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Annabel Pennefather-Dillon said: "We have some excellent matches to look forward to in the tournament with world-class teams coming to our shores. Our men's team will be pitted against India, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Poland, and we know it will be tough. But then every Group will be, since these are the top Under 21 players in the world, some of whom are already playing in their national senior teams."
"The International Hockey Federation representatives were in Singapore recently to inspect our venue and meet with our event management team behind the tournament, and we're happy to share that they are very pleased with the progress of our preparations for this marquee event. We certainly aim to do our very best to make this a great and successful hockey and sporting event for Singapore," added Annabel Pennefather-Dillon.
For the first time, the tournament will be jointly hosted by the SHF and the Malaysian Hockey Confederation, and the matches will be played at the Seng Kang West stadium in Singapore and at the Taman Daya stadium in Johor, Malaysia.
Other countries that will feature in the competition playing in Johor during the group stages of the event include Pakistan, the inaugural winner of the tournament in 1979, Spain who finished 3rd in 2005, as well as defending champion Argentina.
England, who finished 4th in 1997 and 2001 is expected to feature exciting young talents as they aim to play their country's top juniors in June.
As a prelude to the highly-anticipated 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, the Men's Hockey Junior World Cup takes on special significance as a test event for hosts Singapore and also for countries looking to familiarise themselves with the country for the inaugural event in the Lion City in two year's time.
The Men's Hockey Junior World Cup is an international Under-21 field hockey competition sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
The 2009 tournament is the first co-hosted hockey tournament by Singapore and Malaysia and is also the first time the FIH has accepted a joint-bid for any of its major world level events.