Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Olympian Vivek Sagar Prasad will lead the 18-member Indian Junior Hockey Team who will defend the title at the FIH Junior World Cup slated to be played from 24th November to 5th December at Bhubaneswar.
Promising defender Sanjay, a 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympics silver medallist, is the vice-captain of the team .
The 12-day long tournament will witness 16 top teams from across the globe vie for the Cup which was previously won by India in 2016.
Dinachandra Singh Moirangthem and Boby Singh Dhami have been chosen as alternate players who will be allowed to play only if there is an injury or someone in the 18-member squad is ruled out of the tournament due to covid-19.
India will commence their title defence on 24 November against France. They will take on Canada on 25th November followed by a match against Poland on 27th November.
The knockout matches will take place between 1 December and 5 December as the teams will look to become the Champions of the quadrennial event.
The other teams in the fray include Belgium, The Netherlands, Argentina, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, France, Chile, Spain and USA.
Announcing the team chief coach Graham Reid admitted that “To choose the best 18 players to represent their country is one of the hardest things to do in sport. Each of these guys has put their everything into trying to make this team for the last 12-18 months.”
“It is a well-balanced side with a lot of flexibility and flare. The key to these guys performing on the big stage will be to trust in each other and trust in their preparation,” Reid said adding “Through COVID, through sanctions and lockdowns, huge sacrifices have been made. We have chosen a group of 20 players, a team of 18 and 2 alternate players who we believe give us the best chance of defending our title as Junior World Cup Champions.
Talking about the team’s ongoing preparations in Bhubaneswar the coach said “The players have been thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to train for the last few days at Kalinga Hockey Stadium which has become an icon in our sport. Even though the ground will be empty, the Olympics have proven that the spectacle of hockey can still be enjoyed by everyone involved,”
Vivek Sagar Prasad (C), Sanjay (VC) Prashant Chauhan (GK), Pawan (GK) Shardanand Tiwari. Sudeep Chirmako, Rahul Kumar Rajbhar, Maninder Singh,, Vishnukant Singh, Ankit Pal, Uttam Singh, Sunil Jojo, Manjeet, Rabichandra Singh Moirangthem, Abhishek Lakra, Yashdeep Siwach, Gurmukh Singh, Araijeet Singh Hundal.