(Photo source: Hockey India): India’s veteran midfielder Sardar Singh will mark his return to the Indian hockey team as Hockey India announces Indian squad for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018. Sardar is named the captain of the 18 member squad heading Ipoh, Malaysia for the tournament. Alongside sixth-ranked India, the tournament will feature World No.1 Australia, World No.2 Argentina, England, Ireland and hosts Malaysia with the final being played on March 10. The Indian team will feature three debutants in Mandeep Mor, Sumit Kumar and Shilanand Lakra while senior compatriots like PR Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh have been rested.
Sardar will return to his sole role of captaining the side alongside Ramandeep Singh, who will act as the vice captain. Indian selectors have decided to give rest to the experienced defenders like Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singha and Birendra Lakra. The team will also miss the services of superstar forwards like Akashdeep Singh and SV Sunil.
Sjoerd Marijne has been producing results for the Indian hockey since his arrival to coach the mens team. The selection of young talents clearly indicates the ideology of making them a complete player for future and also providing with enough exposure at International arena. Experienced campaigner like Sardar Singh will be best suited for the job of handling the young guns.
“Just like the New Zealand Tour where four players made their International debut, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a great opportunity for these new players to get international exposure against top teams,” stated chief coach Sjoerd Marijne in a Hockey India release.
“Sardar is one of the leaders in the core group and in Manpreet Singh’s absence, he has been chosen for the job. He is an experienced player and having missed two tournaments previously, this is an opportunity for him to show his skills,” he added.
Sardar will guard the midfield alongside Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Sumit and Simranjeet Singh. Not to forget the latter four midfielders belong to the Junior world cup winning squad of 2016. India’s defence will be guarded by Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Surender Kumar and new comers Mandeep Mor and Nilam Sanjeep Xess. The goalposts will be kept by Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak.
“This tournament is extremely important for the players who are going because it is another opportunity for them to experience high level competition especially from teams like Australia and Argentina,” Marijne said. “This is a chance for them to show their capability in the international level and ensure their place in the squad for future tournaments,” said Marijne.
Indian Squad for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Suraj Karkera, Krishan B. Pathak
Defenders: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Mandeep Mor
Midfielders: S.K. Uthappa, Sardar Singh (Captain), Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh
Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh (Vice-captain), Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar (Junior), Shilanand Lakra