Hockey India has named the 18-member Indian men’s hockey squad for the FIH World Cup 2018 Odisha, to be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, from November 28 to December 16. The team, to be led by Manpreet Singh and vice-captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, will open its campaign against South Africa on November 28.
While there are no are no surprises in the squad, the midfield looks a tad inexperienced. The Indian midfield could have looked a bit more balanced with someone like the now-retired Sardar Singh in the mix.
The team management would hope that the solid-looking backline, with PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak as goalkeepers, will help lead the quality up the field.
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The defense is bolstered by the return of defender Birendra Lakra, making a comeback after missing out the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat last month due to injury. Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar will man the defense alongside Lakra.
The area of the pitch India seem most green in though is the midfield. Captain Manpreet and vice captain Chinglensana team up with young guns Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma and Hardik Singh, who made his international debut last month. It is here that the lack of an experienced hand will be felt. In a game that relies mostly on crucial incidents, India’s lack of a stabilising figure could prove crucial. For a team that has regularly crumbled in crucial moments and displayed inept game management, youngsters marshalling a midfield does little to calm the nerves.
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The attack will be spearheaded by Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh and Simranjeet Singh — again a little inexperienced and India would surely miss the services of the injured SV Sunil up front.
India, grouped in Pool C along with World No.3 Belgium, Canada and South Africa, will need to finish top of the pool to secure a easier path in the knockouts.
“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,” chief coach Harendra Singh was quoted in a statement released by Hockey India.
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“The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and they 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,” he added.
Goalkeepers: PR 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.
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