Hockey India on Thursday announced its 18-member squad who will represent the host nation at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 to begin on 28 November at the iconic Kalinga Stadium.
The Indian team which will be led by Manpreet Singh and vice Captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, are scheduled to begin their campaign against South Africa in the tournaments' curtain raiser.
Much to the delight of the local fans, experienced defender Birendra Lakra, hailing from Odisha, returns to the squad after missing out on the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat. Another player from Odisha to feature is talismanic defender Amit Rohidas.
They will be joined by Surender Kumar, Kothajit Singh and 2016 Junior World Cup winners Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar to form India’s defense with three of them specialized as drag-flickers.
The midfield will see the dynamic Manpreet Singh who played a pivotal role in India’s campaign as defending Champions at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will add to the experience in the center along with young guns Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma also of the Junior World Cup team and Hardik Singh, who made his International debut last month.
While the forward line will see the experienced Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, the job of guarding the sticks will be entrusted to PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Chief Coach Harendra Singh was pleased with the team's composition of youth coupled with experience and was confident of India's chances at the tournament.
“We have chosen the best available combinations for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. We had to make some tough decisions to select 18 out of a very strong pool of 34 players. The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and have been selected on the basis of their current form and fitness. These players have consistently shown their potential in the lead up to the showpiece event and I am confident India will put up a fighting performance,” asserted Chief Coach Harendra Singh.
The core group of 34 will continue to train in Bhubaneswar till 23 November 2018 after which the team will finalize its preparations for the mega-event. India grouped in Pool C along with World No.3 Belgium, Canada, and South Africa will need to finish on top of the pool to secure a place in the Quarter Final.
18 MEMBER SQUAD:
GOALKEEPERS: P R Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
DEFENDERS: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas
MIDFIELDERS: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit
FORWARDS: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh
(Inputs from Hockey India)