Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Ace mid fielder Manpreet Singh was on Monday retained captain of the 20-member Indian hockey team for the double header season opener of the FIH Pro League against the Netherlands to be held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on 18 and 19 January.
The two teams last played against each other at the same venue in 2018 World Cup Quarter Final.
Drag flicker Harmanpreet Singh has been named vice captain of the squad which will see the return of experienced midfielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam who has not been in competition since the 9th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2019 (A Division) in February last year.
He suffered an ankle fracture in the Final that kept him out of action. Promising youngster Sumit too will make his comeback after he suffered a wrist injury in June during the FIH Series Final where India beat South Africa in the Final.
Apart from Manpreet and Harmanpreet other members of the team are goal keepers PR Sreejesh and , Krishan B Pathak, experienced Birendra Lakra, dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar and the Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma
Striker Gurjant Singh will join SV Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Gursahibjit Singh and Kothajit Singh Khadangbam.
Talking about the team Chief Coach Graham Reid. admitted that experienced players have been preferred for this crucial fixture against World number 3 team “We have chosen a relatively experienced team to take on the Netherlands this weekend in Bhubaneswar. While Varun Kumar will be back in training this week after suffering a nerve injury during the Olympic Qualifiers, he wasn’t able to be considered for selection”
“We will however get a chance to see Chinglensana return to international competition after a full year out and Sumit returns after a 6 month hand injury. Both have been training well and are physically fit. Gurjant has also shown great form in training and has earned his spot back in the team,” he added .
Reid opined that it will be crucial to be sharp in the Pro League as the team will be taking on the World’s best teams, including the Netherlands (18-19 January), Belgium (8-9 February), Australia (21-22 February).
“It will be important to start strong and sharp in the Pro League with our first 3 encounters against the top 3 teams in the world. We will be focussing on getting our structures right and honing our set plays as preparation for our Olympic campaign.”
The Team: P R Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak , Harmanpreet Singh (V Capt) ,Gurinder Singh,Amit Rohidas,Surender Kumar,Birender Lakra,Rupinder Pal Singh, Manpreet Singh (Capt),Vivek Sagar Prasad, Chinglensana Singh,Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Gurjant Singh, SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay,Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Gursahibjit Singh, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam.