Following their impressive performances in domestic tournaments, Hockey India named two youngsters — defender Jasjit Singh Kular and striker Affan Yousuf — in the senior national team for the fourth e
Following their impressive performances in domestic tournaments, Hockey India named two youngsters — defender Jasjit Singh Kular and striker Affan Yousuf — in the senior national team for the fourth edition of the Asian Champions Trophy to be played in Kuantan, Malaysia, from October 20.
In the 18-member side announced on Thursday, goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh will lead, while midfielder Manpreet Singh is vice-captain.
Kular will join experienced seniors Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar and Pardeep Mor to form India’s defence line.
V.R. Raghunath has been ruled out with an elbow injury and Sansapur’s Kular is expected to take his spot as a drag flicker. Birendra Lakra makes a comeback after a long-term on the sidelines.
Ace drag-flicker Raghunath has been advised rehabilitation for three weeks and though Manpreet and S.V. Sunil are carrying minor injuries the duo have been cleared to play.
Skipper Sreejesh believes the team is well-balanced. “It is time for a new cycle. Usually the cycle is from one Olympics to another so it is a new beginning for us. A couple of youngsters have been added to the team, especially in the forward line and defence. Raghu has a few niggles so has been rested. It is a good and well-balanced side,” stated the custodian.
Taking charge in the absence of chief coach Roelant Oltmans, strategy coach Roger van Gent said the Asian event would be a challenge for young striker Yousuf.
“We know him for long and it’s time for him to challenge and play in the senior team. In the last two weeks in the camp, he’s working on exactly what we want from him,” said the Dutchman.
Over the last two weeks at the Sports Authority of India, South Centre, van Gent stressed on improving overall skills. “When we analysed the way we played at the Olympics and also the tournament before that, we got some points where we have to improve.The way we are playing right now we are focusing on the PCs and there needs improvement,” he added.
Squad Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh (capt), Akash Chikte; Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Pardeep Mor, Jasjit Singh Kular, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar; Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Manpreet Singh (vice-capt), Sardar Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Devindar Walmiki; Forwards: Talwinder Singh, S.V. Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Affan Yousuf.