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India to face Argentina in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup opener

570   //    27 Feb 2018, 21:51 IST
18-member Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the prestigious 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

18-member Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the prestigious 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

The final squad for Sultan Azlan Shah tournament looks like a melange of unseasoned young lads and very few experienced players. The Coach believes that youngsters' energy could be the trump card in the tournament.

Veteran hockey player, Sardara Singh has been named the captain. Being the most experienced player on the team with 292 international caps under his name, the skipper is all confident for an impressive performance.

India, now ranked no.6, will face the World’s no.3, Argentina, in their opening match of the tournament. With the majority of the team comprising of young and zealous players, the coach believes in the energy that young blood carries now.

This tournament will also expose the team to further international exposure. A win or a draw in the first match will certainly boost the team to perform better and consistent throughout the rest of the tournament.

Loopholes that have been pestering Indian team for so long is the inconsistent and slack defense. Much heed is to be paid on these and the outcomes depend on how well the team pulls up its socks and dwindles the effect of these loopholes adeptly. The three debut players, Mandeep Mor, Sumit Kumar, and Shilanand Lakra, who were part of the winning team of Sultan of Johar Cup, 2017, will be the players to prove their prowess in a bigger stage this time and infuse the tactics of world-class hockey.

Sardara will have to maintain the cool within himself and also the team with the youngsters prone to pressure while facing top-ranked teams like Argentina, Australia etc. Goalkeepers Suraj Karkera and Krishna B Pathak will have to take the role of Sreejesh, The Great Indian Wall of Hockey. Ramandeep Singh, known for his adept deflection skills, will be another key player in the team.

This team will get the opportunity to prove their prowess while managing the high competition by other teams. Coach's long-term aim for developing a core competent team will speak its first words through the result of this tournament. High anticipation looms over the fans to see whether the novice team can challenge the experienced.

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