New Delhi: Hockey India has named 33 Men’s Players for this year’s first national camp which is a mix of young and experienced players along with new faces inducted into the Senior fold. In 2018, India hockey team faces challenges in Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Hockey Champions Trophy Breda in July, the Asian Games Jakarta in August, Asian Champions Trophy in October and the much-awaited Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar starting in November, India. Also Read - India Hockey Legend And World Cup Winner Michael Kindo Passes Away at 73
Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, part of the winning team of 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup, finds himself in the group along with Akash Anil Chikte and Suraj Karkera who had a promising outing at the Men’s Asia Cup and contributed to India’s success at the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017. They will be joined by senior compatriot PR Sreejesh who is vying to find top form after nearly eight months of injury break. Also Read - Indian Men's Hockey Team Finish Decade With Highest-Ever Ranking
Nilam Sanjeep Xess, the young defender from Sundargarh, Odisha who led the Indian team to U-18 Asia Cup win in 2016, has been elevated to the Senior Core Group. He will train alongside stalwart Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh in the back line. Also Read - India Hockey Star Gurjant Singh Hopes to Prove His Mettle Before Tokyo Olympics
The line-up of midfielders remains unchanged with Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh in the group.
Young forward Sumit Kumar, who featured in the Indian Junior Men’s Team in 2016, has been included for the camp with seniors’ SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh.
India will begin the season with the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga and Hamilton, New Zealand which will see Belgium, Japan and the hosts in the fray and the ten-day national camp will lay the foundation to a testing season ahead.
“The camp will be short and we need to deal with the players who just played domestic matches which means we need to be careful in training considering we play eight matches in New Zealand,” expressed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“Like always, the evaluation of the previous tournament needs to come from the players so that’s the first thing we do when we meet for this camp. I would like to understand what their experience was of the tournament and what they think needs to improve. For me, Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 gave an insight into what is necessary to improve when we play higher ranked teams and I certainly believe we can do better in our 1 vs 1 defending. In the next tour, this will be one of the key areas we would like to improve,” added the 43-year-old Dutchman.
The men’s core group is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera, P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan B Pathak.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Sardar Singh.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh.
Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar.
(With ANI inputs)