Drag-flicker with prior experience Rupinder Pal Singh will captain the Indian team, with veteran Birendra Lakra serving as his deputy, during this year’s Men’s Asia Cup hockey tournament, which will be held in Jakarta from May 23 to June 1.
Hockey India named a 20-man squad for the World Cup qualifier tournament on Monday. Pool A includes India, Japan, Pakistan, and host Indonesia, while Pool B includes Malaysia, Korea, Oman, and Bangladesh.
India, the defending champions, have named ten new players who will make their senior debuts. They include Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh, and Uttam Singh from the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup. Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev, and S Karthi will also join the team.
Maninder Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess of the Junior World Cup have been named as replacements, while Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal, and Angad Bir Singh have been named as standbys.
“The team is a good mix of experienced senior players and newcomers, many of whom have played at the international level in different age-group matches but have not made their Senior India debut. Since India has already qualified for the FIH Men’s World Cup by virtue of being the hosts, this will be a good platform for us to try out this new group and test how these players utilize the opportunity,” said coach BJ Kariappa.
Former India captain and two-time Olympian Sardar Singh will also coach the team. He thought the players had shown a lot of promise over the last few months at the national camp.
“This is a very talented group of players and I have seen them work really hard over the past few weeks to earn a place in the team. On a personal front, this will be my first tournament as India Coach and I am looking forward to this new experience,” said Sardar.
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.
Standbys: Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal, Angad Bir Singh.
(Inputs from IANS)