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South Asian Games first international assignment in 2016 for Indian Men's hockey team

india men's hockey team
The Blues have put in a series of good performances in 2015 

The 12th South Asian Games (SAF Games), which will be simultaneously held in Guwahati and Shillong, will be the Indian senior men hockey team’s first international assignment after a decent showing in 2015, which they capped off with a thrilling bronze medal finish. The blues beat world number two the Netherlands 8-7 (5-5) in a pulsating shootout at the Hockey World League Final Round in front of their home crowd in Raipur.

The national team had also reached the semifinals of the Hockey World League Semifinal Round and settled for fourth spot in addition to winning a bronze medal at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

It may be worth recalling that the Indian men’s hockey team had finished runners-up at the 2010 SAF Games held in Dhaka, Bangladesh losing to arch-rivals Pakistan 4-5 in a shootout after both teams were tied 1-1 in regulation time with Vokkaliga Raghunath scoring for India.

Interestingly, India had easily defeated Pakistan 5-1 in the league phase riding on a fine hat-trick by Vokkaliga Raghunath and a brace by Dharamvir Singh. India had drubbed Nepal 21-0 and Sri Lanka 7-2 in their earlier league games in an event, where they fielded a young side under captain Ajitesh Roy and coached by Clarence Lobo.

Similarly, at the 2006 SAF Games held in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, India, under the captaincy of V Raja, had lost to Pakistan 2-3 in the final to finish runners-up.

Like the 2010 edition, India had beaten Pakistan 2-0 in the league phase and also got the better of Sri Lanka 9-1 and Bangladesh 4-0 in their other league matches – again coached by Clarence Lobo.

Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made his senior international debut at that tournament. “The 2016 SAF Games will be the first international tourney India is taking part in 2016. Teams from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are expected to take part and hopefully this will be a good preparation for the national team,” said a Hockey India official.

Of course, there is still no clarity over whether India will field its full strength side in the 2016 SAF Games as the February 6-16 event is likely to clash with the 2016 Hockey India League, which is not expected to wind up before February-end.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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