India name experienced squad for Junior Hockey World Cup
New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) Hockey India (HI) on Friday named an experienced 18-member squad for the Junior Hockey World Cup, being held in Lucknow from December 8 to 18.
Apart from striker Mandeep Singh, who also played in the previous edition of the Junior World Cup, internationals Harmanpreet Singh and Harjeet Singh are also in the squad. Goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya was also part of the national squad at the Rio Olympics.
Drag-flicker and defender Harmanpreet, who has been nominated for the 2016 Rising Star of the Year award from the FIH. He was also part of the Indian team that participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Moreover, the memebers have got good exposure and have played together a lot in the run up to the event. Also, all of the members have been playing in the Hockey India League (HIL).
The defence line includes talented trio of Harmanpreet, drag-flicker Varun Kumar and Dipsan Tirkey who will be joined by Vikramjit Singh and Gurinder Singh.
The midfield will be formed by Santa Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet, Sumit along with Harjeet, who looked slightly out of sorts during his senior debut tournament at the Azlan shah Cup in April.
Apart from him, Sumit, who was declared the Junior Player of the HIL 2016, is also a player to watch out.
Surjit Academy graduate Mandeep, who has been in and out of the national team, selected himself in the squad. He was part of India's forward-line in the FIH Champions Trophy in London earlier this year where he rose to the occasion scoring three field goals in crucial matches.
He will be joined in the attack by Armaan Qureshi, Parvinder Singh, Gurjant Singh, Ajit Kumar Pandey and Simranjeet Singh.
India's custodian in goal will be Vikas Dahiya who was also part of the Indian team at the Rio Olympics as a stand-by goalkeeper for P.R. Sreejesh. Krishan B Pathak will be the second goalkeeper for India.
HI high performance director Roelant Oltmans said that the group is capable of earning a medal at the event.
"The final combination has been formed keeping in mind the recent results. I believe this team combination is the best we have in junior hockey and the boys are ready both mentally and physically to do everything it takes to stand on the podium," Oltmans said.
"Though our goal is to win the gold medal, we will be taking it match-by-match and the best part is that this group knows how to keep their emotions in check."
India will begin their campaign against Canada on the December 8 and will face England on 10 December and play South Africa on 12 as part of their Pool D league matches.
India had won the title in 2001 when they defeated Argentina in the final held in Australia. India finished as runners-up in the fifth edition of the tournament held in England in 1997 when they lost to Australia in the final.
In the last edition held in New Delhi, India had an underwhelming campaign, finishing 10th after failing to qualify for the knock-outs.
Goalkeepers: Vikas Dahiya, Krishan B, Pathak
Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Vikramjit Singh, Gurinder Singh
Midfielders: Harjeet Singh, Santa Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet, Sumit
Forwards: Parvinder Singh, Gurjant Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Mandeep Singh, Ajit Kumar Pandey, Simranjeet Singh