Hockey India on Tuesday announced the squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2018. Veteran player and former captain of Indian team Sardar Singh was dropped from the team and midfielder Manpreet Singh was given the captaincy for the Games which are scheduled to be held in Gold Coast from April 4 to 14. Another notable absentee from the squad was forward Ramandeep Singh.
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is back in the team and he will be India’s man under the bar. Suraj Karkera was named as the back up goalkeeper in the 18-man squad.
India have named six defenders in the squad with the experienced Rupinder Pal Singh returning to the squad. The defending looks strong in Rupinder, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar (the three will be key drag fickers as well), Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh and Amit Rohidas.
The forward line will comprise of Akashdeep Singh, veteran SV Sunil, Junior World Cup winner Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Dilpreet Singh.
Manpreet will be assisted by Chinglensana Singh, who is also the vice-captain, in the midfield. Sumit and Vivek Sagar Prasad are also included in the squad.
“This squad has been picked keeping in mind the performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We have tried out different combinations in the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“This team has been improving with every match and while we could not produce a podium finish at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, it will have no influence on how we are going to play in Australia and we will be going there with a mindset to win,” said the 43-year-old Dutch Coach.
India have never won the gold medal at Commonwealth Games and in the previous two editions, they have finished behind Australia, who clinched the gold. But captain Manpreet wants to turn things around this time.
“Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we have some strong teams in our Pool. It’s extremely crucial to top our table and make the semi-final but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we will be up for a strong challenge.” Manpreet said.
The Indian team are in Pool B along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales, England and will begin their campaign on April 7 against Pakistan.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera; Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Kadangbam, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas; Midfilders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Sumit, Vivek Sagar Prasad; Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh