Virtually entire hockey squad in WSH list

The WSH announcement means that if all players indeed decide to turn out in the $2 million league, India will have to field a second-string team for the Olympic qualifiers here from Feb 15.

The camp for the Olympic qualifiers will run parallel to the WSH which begins Dec 17. HI's immediate reaction was that the players must quickly decide where their loyalties lay.

"If the players fail to turn up at the camp, players from the national junior squad will fill their places," HI secretary general Narinder Batra told IANS.  The entire India squad, barring Vikram Pillay and Manpreet Singh, which played in the last international event in the four-nation nine-a-side tournament in Australia this month have signed to play in the WSH, it is claimed.

The WSH release Thursday has a list of 150 Indian players who will turn out for eight city-based franchises.  The operative part of the release is that the players have all "received advance payments to play in the World Series Hockey and virtually every player has signed three-year exclusive contracts".

Obviously, the WSH management is sending out a warning to HI that almost all its players have signed for the league and at the same time making sure that none of the listed players develop cold feet in the face of HI threat.

The list includes Rajpal Singh, Sandeep Singh, Sardar Singh, Arjun Hallappa, Rupinder Pal Singh, Mandeep Antil, Ignace Tirkey, Roshan Minz, S.V. Sunil, and Tushar Khandker.  Temperamental Adrian D'Souza and Deepak Thakur, who are past their best, will also turn out in WSH.

Then those who are out of consideration because of injuries or not in form like goalkeeper Baljeet Singh, who lost his place in the India side after a serious eye injury in the national camp, defenders William Xalxo, Dhananjay Mahadik and Diwakar Ram, and forwards Gurbaz Singh and Shivendra Singh have also signed up with WSH.

Significantly, Dhanraj Pillay, at 43, will be making his return to the hockey field and so will Viren Rasquinha who with a management degree is part of a sports think-tank to help promising Indian sports persons.

The league will also see upcoming players like Gurjinder Singh, the India U-21 captain, the speedy 19-year-old forward Kangujam Chinglensana Singh, the fast left forward Victo Singh and the best player of the last National Games, S.K. Uthappa.

"We are proud to announce the participation of all the star Indian players in World Series Hockey. One of the key focus areas for the league is to fortify the talent pool of hockey in India and it will be a splendid display of skill as our Indian champions will play with global superstars. Besides, it will be a fantastic opportunity for the young and emerging players to compete with the world's best," said Karl Da Costa, Deputy General Manager, Nimbus Sport, the organisers of the league.

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