New Delhi: Odisha’s veteran defender Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas have found place in the Indian hockey squad for the upcoming FIH World Cup beginning in Bhubaneswar on November 28.
Lakra made a comeback into the team after missing out in Muscat due to rehabilitation. Besides, his home State colleague Amit Rohidas among others will form India’s defence.
The 18-member team which was announced today will be headed by Manpreet Singh. However, experienced Rupinder Pal Singh and S V Sunil missed out from the team.
The Indian team, which will play their against South Africa on the opening day, features PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak as goalkeepers. Manpreet’s deputy will be Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Hockey India said in a statement.
The midfield will feature the dynamic Manpreet, who played a pivotal role in India’s campaign as defending champions at the Asian Champions Trophy.
Chinglensana will add to the experience in the center along with young guns Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma and Hardik Singh, who made his international debut last month.
The forward line has the experienced Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh.
India, grouped in Pool C along with World No.3 Belgium, Canada and South Africa, will need to finish on top of the pool to secure a place in the quarterfinals.
“We have chosen the best available combinations for the World Cup. We had to make some tough decisions to select 18 out of a very strong pool of 34 players,” asserted Chief Coach Harendra Singh.
“The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and have been selected on the basis of their current form and fitness.
“These players have consistently shown their potential in the lead up to the showpiece event and I am confident India will put up a fighting performance,” he added.
The core group of 34 will continue to train in Bhubaneswar till November 23 before it plays its World Cup opener.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Squad: Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh.