Hockey India announced 18-member squad for Sultan Azlan Shah cup hockey tournament on Wednesday. The prestigious annual tournament will be played in Ipoh, Malaysia and the men in blue will be accompanied by Malaysia, Canada, Korea, South Africa and Asian games gold medallist Japan. Interestingly, India is the top ranked team in the tournament that makes them the firm favourite to win the coveted title after a low in 2018 that includes quarter final finish at the Odisha hockey world cup.
The team will be lead by its inspirational skipper Manpreet Singh alongside his deputy Surender Kumar of Hockey Haryana as the vice skipper. Chinglensana Singh was the vice skipper of the team till the last year’s world cup but the selectors handed over the baton to Surender owing to the injury of Singh who was sidelined from the team.
Experienced campaigners like SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Rupinder Pal Singh were also sidelined due to injury.
The team boast of experienced PR Sreejesh at the goal post backed by the young Krishan Bahadur Pathak. The defense line will be accompanied by vice captain Surender Singh, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurinder Singh alongside the drag flickers Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas.
Skipper Manpreet Singh will spearhead the midfield alongside the young guns like Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and Vivek Sagar Prasad.
The selectors again trusted the youngsters to deliver for the team in the forward line. Experienced Mandeep Singh will shoulder the responsibility for penetrating into the opposition goal alongside his former junior world cup 2016 winning team members Gurjant Singh and Simranjeet Singh. Sumit Kumar and Shailand Lakra are the other two options in the forward line.
“It is unfortunate we will be missing some key players for the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019 due to injury. However, it is important for them to return to 100 per cent fitness ahead of the FIH Series Final, Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 which is a crucial tournament in our quest for 2020 Olympic berth and hence will continue to remain in Bengaluru and work on their rehabilitation,” said David John, high performance director of Hockey India who will coach the team after the departure of Harendra Singh.
India will play Japan in the tournament opener on 23rd March followed by games against South Korea (24th March), Malaysia(26th March), Canada(27th March) and South Africa(29th March). The classification matches and the final will be played on 30th March.
Indian squad for Sultan Azlan Shah cup 2019
1. Krishan B Pathak
2. P R Sreejesh
3. Gurinder Singh
4. Surender Kumar (Vice Captain)
5. Varun Kumar
6. Birendra Lakra
7. Amit Rohidas
8. Kothajit Singh Khadangbam
9. Hardik Singh
10. Nilakanta Sharma
12. Vivek Sagar Prasad
13. Manpreet Singh (Captain)
14. Mandeep Singh
15. Simranjeet Singh
16. Gurjant Singh
17. Shilanand Lakra
18. Sumit Kumar