Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018: Hockey India names Sardar Singh captain; PR Sreejesh, Rupinder Pal Singh fails to make cut
Hockey India on Tuesday named the 18-member Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the prestigious 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to begin on 3 March 2018 in Ipoh, Malaysia. The tournament will see World No.1 Australia, World No.2 Argentina, England, India, Ireland and hosts Malaysia in an exciting contest that ends on March 10.
The Indian team featuring three debut players in Mandeep Mor, Sumit Kumar and Shilanand Lakra, will be Captained by the experienced Sardar Singh while the responsibility of Vice Captain will be shouldered by forward Ramandeep Singh.
“Just like the New Zealand Tour where four players made their International debut, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a great opportunity for these new players to get international exposure against top teams,” stated Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne, who was behind India’s success at the Hero Men’s Asia Cup in 2017 and the Bronze Medal feat at the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017.
While Sumit Kumar (Junior) is part of the ongoing Senior Men National Camp, Mandeep Mor and Shilanand Lakra have been called-up from the Junior Men's Core Group. They were also part of the India Colts team that won Bronze Medal at the Sultan of Johor Cup last year. By introducing new players to the senior fold, Chief Coach Marijne is looking at long-term gains for the team that has set their eyes firmly on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“With youngsters who have done well in New Zealand as well as few more getting the right international exposure, it will only help us create a bigger group. Playing top teams in their first tournament will be challenging but this is also an opportunity for the seniors to help the youngsters adjust to this level,” added the 43-year-old Dutch Coach.
On Sardar Singh’s role as the Captain, Marijne said, “Sardar is one of the leaders in the core group and in Manpreet Singh’s absence, he has been chosen for the job. He is an experienced player and having missed two tournaments previously, this is an opportunity for him to show his skills.”
Sardar Singh will play in the midfield along with SK Uthappa, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma and Simranjeet Singh. India's defence will be guarded by Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Surender Kumar and new comers Mandeep Mor and Nilam Sanjeep Xess while the Indian goalpost will be kept by Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak.
The forward line will feature Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Talwinder Singh and debut players Sumit Kumar (Junior) and Shilanand Lakra.
“This tournament is extremely important for the players who are going because it is another opportunity for them to experience high level competition especially from teams like Australia and Argentina. This is a chance for them to show their capability in the international level and ensure their place in the squad for future tournaments,” said Marijne.
Krishan B Pathak
Nilam Sanjeep Xess
Sardar Singh (Captain)
Ramandeep Singh (Vice-captain)
Sumit Kumar (Junior)