Veteran Sardar Singh and Ramandeep Singh were on Tuesday axed from Indian men’s hockey team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and head coach Sjoerd Marijne said while the former lost out his place because of stiff competition, the latter was dropped because of inconsistent performances in recent past.
“Sardar was dropped from the Commonwealth Games team because of stiff competition for centre position and Ramandeep was omitted for his inconsistent performance. They, however, are good players,” Marijne told PTI after the announcement of the squad.
Sardar’s exclusion was on expected lines as he performed below-par at this year’s Azlan Shah Cup. However, a few eyebrows were raised at Ramandeep’s exclusion as he performed decently in the same tournament.
While Manpreet Singh will don the captain’s armband, Chinglensana Singh will be his deputy.
“The reins of deputy to Manpreet Singh has been given to Chinglensana. These players can play vertical and have the ability to score goals,” the coach said.
Admitting that world champions Australia would be the team to beat at the Gold Coast CWG, Marijne said Indian players need to be disciplined to win matches at the quadrennial event to be held at Gold Coast from April 4 to 15.
The Indian team has been clubbed in Pool B along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales and England. India will begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on April 7.
Marijne said India need to focus on the opening match against Pakistan to set the momentum for the tournament.
The Dutchman, however, expects to meet the reigning CWG champions and hosts Australia in the semifinals or the summit clash.
Asked about his expectations from skipper Manpreet, Marijne said he will be a part of the leadership group, which also includes former captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
Sreejesh made a comeback to the side after recovering from a career-threatening Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injury which he suffered during the Azlan Shah Cup in 2017. His brilliant show during the New Zealand tour saw him get his rightful place back.
Sreejesh will be backed by the 22-year-old talent Suraj Karkera who played a crucial part in the teams good show in Bhubaneswar last year in his senior counterpart’s absence.
Meanwhile, captain Manpreet said it is important for India to perform as a unit in the CWG to get desired results.
Manpreet said India’s main focus would be to pull off a victory against Pakistan in their opening match.
“We need to focus on our plan and maintain discipline. That is the main thing,” he said.
Manpreet praised India’s performance in this year’s Azlan Shah despite the team finishing a disappointing fifth in the six-team event.
“This is a very positive thing for us that the young team did well in Azlan Shah,” he said.
Speaking about India’s new analytical coach Chris Ciriello, Manpreet said the Australian brings in a lot to the table.
“Most important thing is Chris’ mindset. He brings in the winning mentality from Australia. The Australians always look to win matches which I like the most. We are learning many things from him,” he said.