Team to hold 10-day camp in City
P R Sreejesh
The Indian men's hockey team will report for a 10-day national camp, beginning January 4, at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru.
With a busy hockey calendar that features Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Champions Trophy at Breda, Netherlands in July, the Jakarta Asian Games in August, Asian Champions Trophy in October and the showpiece World Cup at Bhubaneswar in November, Hockey India has announced 33 players for this year's first national camp which is a mix of young and experienced players. Some new faces have also found a place.
Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, part of the winning team of 2016 Junior Men's World Cup, is included in the group along with Akash Anil Chikte and Suraj Karkera who had promising outing in the Asia Cup and the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final. They will be joined by PR Sreejesh who is vying to find top form after nearly eight months of injury break.
Young defender Nilam Sanjeep Xess, who led the Indian team to under-18 Asia Cup win in 2016, has been elevated to the senior core group. He will train alongside stalwart Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar and Gurinder Singh in the back line.
The line-up of midfielders remains unchanged with Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh and Harjeet Singh in the group.
Forward Sumit Kumar, who featured in the Indian junior men's team in 2016, has also been included alongside seniors SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf and Talwinder Singh.
India will begin the season with the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Tauranga and Hamilton, New Zealand that has Belgium, Japan and the hosts in fray.
"We need to deal with the players who just played domestic matches which means we need to be careful in training considering we play eight matches in New Zealand," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
"The evaluation of the previous tournament needs to come from the players so that's the first thing we do when we meet for this camp. I would like to understand what their experience was of the tournament and what they think needs to improve. For me, Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 gave an insight into what is necessary to improve when we play higher ranked teams. I certainly believe we can do better in our 1 vs 1 defending. In the next tour this will be one of the key areas we would like to improve."
Core Group: Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera, P R Sreejesh, Krishan B Pathak.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess and Sardar Singh.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S K Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh and Harjeet Singh.
Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar.