New Delhi: Rising midfielder Manpreet Singh on Wednesday replaced veteran goalkeeper P.R.Sreejesh as the skipper of the Indian hockey team for the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat, starting October 18.
Hockey India on Wednesday named the 18-member team for the tournament, the first since the retirement of former skipper Sardar Singh.
India will go into the tournament as the defending champions after they beat Pakistan 3-2 in the 2016 edition in Malaysia.
Midfielder Chinglensana Singh will shoulder the duties of vice captain of the side.
Along with an experienced goalkeeper in Sreejesh, India’s 18-member team also features youngster Krishan Bahadur Pathak as the second goalie, while the defensive unit will see experienced defender Kothajit Singh Khadangbam make a comeback into the side.
Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar and Jarmanpreet Singh will also be involved in India’s defence while 20-year-old Hardik Singh will be making his debut for the senior team.
Manpreet, the recent recipient of this year’s Arjuna Award, will be responsible for commanding the midfield along with the experienced Chinglensana.
The midfield duo will be joined by Lalit Kumar Upadhyay while Nilakanta Sharma and Sumit also make a comeback into the side.
India’s forward-line will see 23-year-old striker Gurjant Singh return to the squad while Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh will hope to score plenty of goals in Oman to help India retain the title.
Speaking about the team composition, India’s chief coach Harendra Singh said: “I believe we have a great mix of players in this 18-member team for the Asian Champions Trophy as there is a right balance between youth and experience.”
“The tournament gives us the last chance to test a few players before the World Cup (in November-December) and I’m sure that these players will produce the results in Oman.”
“It is important we stick to our plans and have a good outing in this tournament so that we can wash away the bad memories of the 18th Asian Games, and start fresh in the build-up to the World Cup in Odisha,” he added.
The Indian team will continue to train in Bhubaneswar for the next three weeks where they are undergoing a national coaching camp, post which they will leave for Oman.
World No.5 India will be up against the likes of Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and hosts Oman, with all the teams playing round-robin matches to progress to the semi-finals, with the bronze medal and final taking place on October 28.
Goalkeepers: P.R.Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak;
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Hardik Singh;
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain);
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh.