Senior players Rupinder Pal Singh and SV Sunil have been excluded from India’s team for the men’s hockey World Cup, starting 28 November in Bhubaneswar. Manpreet Singh on the other hand, will be leading the 18-member squad at the tournament, announced Hockey India on Thursday, 8 November.
Veteran striker Sunil's participation in the mega event was always in doubt ever since he picked up a knee injury during the national camp in the lead up to the Asian Champions Trophy held in Muscat last month.
Rupinder Pal has been ignored again after being dropped from the continental event last month. Sunil too did not play in the tournament in which India were declared joint winners with Pakistan after rain played spoilsport on the final day.
The Indian team scheduled to begin their campaign against South Africa on the opening day features PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak as goalkeepers. Manpreet's deputy will be Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Hockey India said in a statement.
Defender Birendra Lakra will make a comeback into the team after missing out the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat last month due to rehabilitation and will be joined by fellow Odia Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Kothajit Singh and 2016 Junior World Cup winners Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar to form India's defence with three of them specialised as dragflickers.
"We have chosen the best available combinations for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. We had to make some tough decisions to select 18 out of a very strong pool of 34 players. The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and have been selected on the basis of their current form and fitness. These players have consistently shown their potential in the lead up to the showpiece event and I am confident India will put up a fighting performance." - Harendra Singh, Indian Coach
After leading India to the Asian Champions Trophy title (shared with Pakistan), captain Manpreet will lead India’s attack in the midfield. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will add to the experience in the center along with young guns Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma also of the Junior World Cup team and Hardik Singh, who made his international debut last month.
The forward line will see the experienced Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh.
India grouped in Pool C along with World No 3 Belgium, Canada and South Africa will need to finish on top of the pool to secure a place in the quarter-final.
The core group of 34 will continue to train in Bhubaneswar till 23 November after which the team will finalise its preparations for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
India’s Squad for Hockey World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh
(With inputs from PTI)
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