Hockey India recently announced the 16-member national men’s squad for the biggest sports event, scheduled to held in Tokyo next month. The revelation of the team shows the freshmen approach of management for the team with the exclusion of players like S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh, the striking trio who have a collective 600 caps and 200 international goals in major competitions.
The current team has only five players from Rio Olympics, with Manpreet Singh Sandhu, P.R. Sreejesh, Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Surender Kumar. P.R. Sreejesh and captain Manpreet Singh will be playing their third Olympics.
The inclusion of Birendra Lakra, who missed Rio Olympics due to knee injury, and exclusion of certain players took everyone by surprise.
Although Hockey India stated that the team was fuelled with a fresh approach-based intense training and preparation at the ongoing preparatory camp, the omission of senior players like Varun Kumar, reflects the fresh legs approach formula, especially in the attacker section.
“It has been an easy process to make the final selection as there is a lot of quality and ambition in this group of players. The performance levels of all the athletes are at an optimum level and more importantly they work well together,” said coach Graham Reid.
India, along with Olympic winner Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and host Japan, is clustered in Pool A for the event.