Indian men's hockey team arrives in Doha for 2nd Asian Champions Trophy
A Sardar Singh-led 18-member Indian senior men’s hockey team arrived in Doha on Monday to take part in the second Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament which will be held from December 20-27.
The blue shirts will be teeming with confidence after their creditable fourth-place finish at the recently concluded 34th FIH Champions Trophy in Melbourne – their best showing since 1982.
The team would be also extra high on motivation as many of its players have landed decent Hockey India League deals with different franchises for its inaugural edition.
Hockey India selectors have named an unchanged side that played in the 34th Champions Trophy.
India would draw fond memories of the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy held at Ordos, China last year, where they outduelled arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in the penalty shootout of the summit clash after both teams were locked 1-1 in regulation time.
Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was the star of the final match as he pulled off two splendid saves in the penalty shootout to help India corner glory.
Drag-flicker Vokkaliga Raghunath will continue to be the vice captain of the side after his superb showing in the Champions Trophy, which also paved the way for his attractive Hockey India League deal with Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
The announcement of an unchanged team means that senior players like Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandker and London Olympics goalkeeper Bharat Chetri continue to be out of the selectors’ radar.
However, the likes of Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh can draw some consolation from the fact that they are named among the standbys.
At the 2012 Asian Champions Trophy, India will be pitted against five Asian teams – China, Japan, Malaysia, Oman and Pakistan.
India would launch its campaign against China on December 20, followed by a game against Japan the next day.
The blue shirts take on Oman on December 23 before locking horns with arch-rivals Pakistan on December 24.
India play their last league match against Malaysia on December 26.
Squad: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, PT Rao Fullbacks: VR Raghunath (vice-captain), Rupinder Pal Singh, Harbir Singh, Halfbacks: Sardar Singh (captain), Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh, Gurmail Singh, Forwards: S V Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Danish Mujtaba, S K Uthappa, Nithin Thimmaiah, Yuvraj Walmiki, Dharamvir Singh, Akashdeep Singh.