Karnataka aim for a good show

Despite missing out on many of their star players, Karnataka coach Ramesh Parameswaran sounded confident of posing a strong challenge in the 64th IHF Senior National hockey championship for the Rangaswamy Cup that kicks off at the KSHA stadium on Wednesday.

With the Indian Hockey Federation and Hockey India yet to resolve their deadlock, most top players in the country have chosen not to compete in this six-team Nationals that now appears to be a very open affair.

“We’ve made good preparation for the tournament,” said Parameswaran, who is gunning for a hat-trick of titles after having led his club IOCL to the inter-petroleum and KSHA National Hockey League titles last month.

“Most of the boys are playing in their first major tournament and I’m hoping that will spur them to give their best. We had a one-week camp at the KSHA stadium and the squad is really piecing together pretty well.

“With this being the first Nationals for most of the boys, the tournament will serve as a good learning experience for them.

“The stakes may not be that high but the tournament will help them gain visibility. A good showing here may land them a chance in this year’s World Series Hockey or a chance to try out with the top clubs. I’m confident they will give their best and we should be in the reckoning for the title,” added Parmeswaran.

Apart from leading the side, WSH player Deepak Bijawad will also be marshalling the hosts’ defence and will be aiming to strike it rich with his drag-flicks. Young Md Naeemuddin and Biju Yirkal will be carrying the bulk of the workload in the striking department.

Meanwhile, champions Mumbai and Jharkhand arrived on Tuesday. Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are scheduled to check in on Wednesday while Manipur are expected arrive on Thursday.

Karnataka squad: Goalkeepers: SG Sambran, Mahan Gowda. Defenders: Deepak Bijawad (captain), KB Ponnanna, AD Cariappa. Midfielders: Rathan Muthanna, Vinayaka Bijawad, Nagasrinu Y, Naveen Kumar M, Teja Babu S. Forwards: Umesh KR, Rajesh NS, Biju Yirkal, Md Naeemuddin, Chengappa PS, Honnur Swamy N, Bonny Marshal D, Kusha JP.

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