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HI names 33 players for national camp

Agencies, New Delhi Feb 9 2018, 20:41 IST

Hockey India on Friday named a 33-member core probables list for a national camp ahead of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Commonwealth Games -- the first two major events of what is going to be a gruelling season.

After an impressive outing in New Zealand where the Indian men's team tested its younger players, with four of them making their international debut, and even tasting victories against Japan, hosts New Zealand as well as World No 3 Belgium, the team will return to the national camp, starting Sunday, at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru.

It is a crucial year for the men's team with major events lined up starting with the prestigious 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup between March 3 and 10 followed by the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games starting April 4.

While the Asian Games in August will be a litmus test where the team will look to defend its gold medal in order to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games and retain the status of being Asia No 1.

The year will also see the team play against top nations at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda, Netherlands and at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

While the next two weeks for chief coach Sjoerd Marijne will be about evaluating the team's performance in New Zealand, he also needs to ensure his men are mentally fresh and ready to embrace the challenge.

"The next two weeks will not just be about evaluating our performance in New Zealand but also to implement the changes to improve really fast.

"We have short time to ready the 18 players for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but with a two-week break, I can expect the players to come back fresh and hungry for the ball," said Marijne.

Emphasising on the need to stay focused on improving their game, Marijne said, "I don't want the team to be busy with the things we cannot control such as outside pressure of winning.

"I want them to go match-by-match, tournament-by-tournament and embrace the challenge of playing big events. I need them to not just be physically at their 100 per cent but also mentally and for that we will work with players individually."

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, Sardar Singh.

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh.

Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar.

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