New Delhi, May 9: Experienced drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh will captain India’s team while veteran Birendra Lakra will serve as his substitute during the Asian Cup men’s hockey tournament to be held in Jakarta from May 23-1 June of this year.
Hockey India on Monday named a 20-member squad for the tournament, which is a World Cup qualifier. India is slammed with Japan, Pakistan and host Indonesia in Group A, while Malaysia, Korea, Oman and Bangladesh are in Group B.
Defending champions India have included 10 new players, who will be making their senior debut. They include FIH Junior Men’s World Cup players Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh. Also new to the team will be Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev and S Karthi.
Junior World Cup players Maninder Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess have been named as replacement players, while Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal and Angad Bir Singh have been named as substitutes.
“The team is a good mix of experienced veteran players and newcomers, many of whom have played internationally in different age group matches but have not made their India Senior debut. Since India has already qualified for the Cup FIH Men’s World Cup by virtue of being the hosts, this will be a good platform to try out this new group and test how these players take advantage of the opportunity,” said head coach BJ Kariappa.
Former India captain and two-time Olympian Sardar Singh will also accompany the team as coach. He felt that the players had shown great potential in recent months during the national camp.
“This is a very talented group of players and I have seen them work very hard over the past few weeks to earn a place in the team. Personally, this will be my first tournament as India coach and I am looking forward to it.” this new experience,” Sardar said.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Pankaj Kumar Rajak, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh (Captain), Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Birendra Lakra (Vice-Captain), Manjeet, Dipsan Tirkey.
Midfielders: Vishnukant Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Simranjeet Singh.
Forwards: Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev, SV Sunil, Uttam Singh, S. Karthi.
Replacement players: Maninder Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess.
Substitutes: Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal, Angad Bir Singh.