Hockey India on Sunday named a list of 32 players for the senior men’s national camp, beginning May 20 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium, to prepare for the upcoming FIH Men’s Series Finals 2019, starting June 6. Also Read - India Hockey Star Gurjant Singh Hopes to Prove His Mettle Before Tokyo Olympics
Hockey India has retained all the 18 players that took part in the recently concluded Australian tour where the team won two matches against WA Thundersticks and Australia A respectively, drew another match against Australia A and lost the last two matches against the world number two Australia. Also Read - Gyanendro Ningombam Elected Unopposed as Hockey India President
The list for the national camp includes goalkeepers PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera, and Krishan Bahadur Pathak, while defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Jarmanpreet Singh, have all been called up. Also Read - Just The Beginning of my Career, Need to Improve on Many Aspects: India Hockey Midfielder Vivek Prasad
Manpreet Singh, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Jaskaran Singh, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Ashis Kumar Topno, and Sayyad Niyaz Rahim, Rajkumar Pal are the midfielders who will take part in the camp. Forwards Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Gursahibjit Singh, Shamsher Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Sumit Kumar, Simranjeet Singh, SV Sunil, and Gurjant Singh have also been called up by Chief Coach Graham Reid.
“It was good to get a view of where the team is at, compared to the World Number 2 side. They have been playing against world-class oppositions on a regular basis in the FIH Pro-League since the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, and this showed up in our two matches against them. For me, those matches provided a good benchmark as to the level we have to be at as we move towards the Olympic qualification,” Reid said.
“So, in terms of preparation for our upcoming FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar-2019, the tour was ideal. It provided me a great opportunity to view players at much closer quarters and under the pressure of a world-class team. Our first quarter in the first Match on Wednesday night showed me the level this team can play, we just need to do that on a more consistent basis. Not only across quarters but across games,” he added.
The 55-year-old further said that his team is focused on improving its attacking.
“Our ability to score goals under tight marking pressure will be critical if we are to close the gap with teams like Australia. Over the next few weeks in Bhubaneswar during our National Camp, we need to create as many opportunities as possible for our attackers to experience this tight pressure,” said Reid.
“It will also be critical for our defenders to keep improving this area from a defensive point of view. With speed and power becoming the dominant forces in World Hockey, we also need to keep improving in these areas. These are longer-term goals but we still need to keep the focus on these areas.”
On his plans to tackle the hot conditions in Bhubaneswar during the upcoming national camp, Reid said, “This first week back will be a lighter week for the whole group as the non-traveling group has also been training hard over the last two weeks in Bengaluru and will need to refresh as well. It will give us a chance to work on skills that we have identified during the Australian Tour. Bhubaneswar is very hot this time of the year so we will be training early morning and later at night to avoid the heat.”
Apart from the 32 core probables, four players, namely, Dipsan Tirkey, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Ramandeep Singh are undergoing their rehabilitation process at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru.