Veteran drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who has recently retired, will lead India in the Asian Cup as Hockey India announced a 20-man squad for the upcoming tournament in Jakarta on Monday. The prestigious event, which will be held from May 23 to June 1, is a World Cup qualifier. Senior players like Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and PR Sreejesh will miss the tournament.
Birender Lakra has been named Rupinder’s deputy for the event, which will feature a second-rate team representing India.
Both Rupinder and Lakra had announced their retirement after the Tokyo Games last year, but later made themselves available for selection.
It will be the first assignment for former captain and two-time Olympian Sardar Singh as India coach.
India is grouped with Japan, Pakistan and hosts Indonesia in Pool A, while Malaysia, Korea, Oman and Bangladesh make up Pool B.
The team has a whopping 10 players making their senior debuts including junior World Cup players Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh.
Also new to the team are Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev and S Karthi.
The team consists of two goalkeepers in Pankaj Kumar Rajak and Suraj Karkera. Defenders include Rupinder, Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Lakra, Manjeet, Dipsan Tirkey, Vishnukant Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Simranjeet Singh.
Attackers Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev, SV Sunil, Uttam Singh and S.Karthi have also been named in the roster.
Junior World Cup players Maninder Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess have been named as substitutes, while Pawan, Pardeep Singh, Ankit Pal and Angad Bir Singh have been named as reserve players.
Speaking about the team’s composition, coach BJ Kariappa said: “The team is a good mix of experienced senior players and newcomers, many of whom have played at international level in matches of different age groups but have not made their Senior India debut.
“As India has already qualified for the FIH Men’s World Cup as it hosts, this will be a good platform for us to try out this new group and test how these players are taking advantage of the opportunity.” Coach Sardar said: “This is a very talented group of players and I’ve seen them work really hard over the past few weeks to earn a place on the team.
“Personally, this will be my first tournament as an India Coach and I’m looking forward to this new experience.”
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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