Bengaluru, April 11 (PTI) India’s chief coach Roelant Oltmans today said the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup men’s hockey tournament will be a platform for the team to test its new methods ahead of this year’s big ticket events.
Oltmans said India will be using the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia to test its bench strength and style of play ahead of this year’s important tournaments like the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final in London, HWL Final in Bhubaneswar and Asia Cup in Dhaka.
“This (Azlan Shah Cup) is not the most important tournaments for us. The most important thing for us in this tournament will be to showcase (our potential). We are trying to introduce a new style of play before we embark on big tournaments, including the Hockey World League and Asia Cup,” the Dutchman told reporters after announcing the squad at the Sports Authority of India here today.
India today named an experimental 18-member squad for the Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh from April 27 to May 6.
The squad to be led by ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh includes six players from last year’s Junior World Cup-winning side out of which four will make their senior debut in Azlan Shah Cup.
Defender Gurinder Singh, midfielders Sumit and Manpreet will make their senior debut in the tournament, while dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh and Mandeep Singh were other members of the World Cup-winning junior team who have already played for the senior side.
Goalkeeper Suraj Karkera, who represented the junior side at the England Tour, EurAsia Cup 2016 and four-nation tournament in Valencia last year, is another player who will make his senior debut in Azlan Shah Cup.
Oltmans said India will focus more on its forwar dline in the Azlan Shah Cup.
“We are practising very hard. We want to score more and more goals. Winning a medal for the country is all about scoring goals and to execute this plan we need more goal- scoring players like Affan Yousuf,” he said.
Asked, who he considers to be the underdogs in the tournament, Oltmans said: “Japan has not played any international matches and it is difficult to know who are the underdogs. Also, there is England who did not have very good outing last year. They will be eager to perform better. So, let us wait and watch.”
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.