Hockey India on Wednesday named the 18-member men’s team who will take part in the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019, beginning March 23 in Ipoh.
The prestigious annual tournament will see hosts Malaysia, Canada, Korea, South Africa, India and the 18th Asian Games Champions Japan in the fray.
The Indian team features experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and youngster Krishan B Pathak in the goal-post while the defence will see vice-captain Surender Kumar joined by Gurinder Singh, Birendra Lakra, and Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, along with drag-flickers Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas.
In the midfield, skipper Manpreet Singh will lead the charge alongside young guns Vivek Sagar Prasad, Hardik Singh, Sumit and Nilakanta Sharma. The forward-line will see Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Shilanand Lakra and Sumit Kumar.
The Indian team, which will begin their campaign against Japan on March 23, will miss the services of experienced forwards SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, and defenders Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh as well as midfielder Chinglensana Singh who were unavailable for selection due to injury.
Junior players Vishal Antil and Pardeep Singh too were not available for selection owing to injuries. These players will continue to undergo rehabilitation at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru.
“It is unfortunate we will be missing some key players for the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019 due to injury. However, it is important for them to return to 100 per cent fitness ahead of the FIH Series Final, Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 which is a crucial tournament in our quest for 2020 Olympic berth and hence will continue to remain in Bengaluru and work on their rehabilitation,” said David John, Director High Performance, Hockey India.
“It is a relatively young side but each of these players have tremendous potential and have a good amount of International exposure. It is important to see how they fair in Malaysia as it will show the depth we possess in the Core Group ahead of the Olympic Qualification events this year,” John said.
The Indian team will leave for Ipoh on March 18.