The Indian hockey team for the FIH World Hockey League semifinal to be held in Belgium from June 20 to July 5 was announced today. Midfielder Sardar Singh has been named as captain, with goalkeeper PR Sreejesh being named as his deputy.
The League features ten teams which are divided into two pools: Pool A and Pool B. India are in Pool A along with France, Poland, Pakistan and Australia whereas China, Ireland, Malaysia, Great Britain and Belgium form the Pool B. India’s first match is against France on June 20.
Indian Coach Paul Van Ass said that the team is quite confident after their victory over Japan in the test series and would look to do well in the league.
“The team is full of confidence which they proved in the recent Japan series where they gave Japan a tough time and beat them 3-0. As they will be clashing with the finest of the teams, the boys are working upon their strategies and confident to put up a good show in the tournament. Their pool is tough but the boys are confident of putting up a great show. The team is excited to face Australia yet again.”
A few surprises came up in the team selection as drag-flicker and defender Rupinder Pal Singh was dropped along with S.K. Uthappa. Forwards Mandeep Singh and Satbir Singh too were dropped from the squad. Instead defenders Gurmail Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular, midfielder Lalit Upadhyay and forward Yuvraj Walmiki made it to the 18 man squad.
The four dropped players featured in India’s squad during Sultan Azlan Shah and the test series against Japan where India bagged the third position and won 3-0 respectively.
The top-3 teams of the Hockey World League will qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016, which India have already done by their Gold in Asian Games last year. The top 4 team of the league would then play Hockey World League Finals to be held in India in Novemeber-December.
Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Harjot Singh
Defenders: Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, V.R. Ragunath, Jasjit Singh Kular, Gurmail Singh
Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh(c), Chinglensana Singh, Lalit Upadhyay
Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Yuvraj Walmiki, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh.
Image Courtesy: NDTV Sports