Sardar axed, Srejeesh recalled 


New Delhi: Seasoned goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made a comeback while former skipper Sardar Singh was dropped from the 18-member Indian hockey squad announced Tuesday by Hockey India (HI) for the upcoming 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. The team will be led by Manpreet Singh.

It was under Manpreet’s leadership India lifted the coveted Asia Cup 2017 followed by a bronze medal feat at the Men’s Hockey World League Finals in Bhubaneswar, last year.

Veteran custodian Sreejesh is back after having suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury during the Azlan Shah tournament in 2017. His brilliant show during the New Zealand tour saw him get his rightful place back.

Sardar’s exclusion was on expected lines as he performed below-par at this year’s Azlan Shah tournament. However a few eyebrows were raised with Ramandeep Singh being dropped despite his decent show in the same tournament. Also not finding a place in team were Oriya players Dipsan Tirkey and Birendra Lakra.

Sources indicated that the axing could well mark the end of Sardar’s international career. He had been living on borrowed times with the coach not happy with his speed and fitness.

“This squad has been picked keeping in mind the performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We have tried out different combinations in the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast Games,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

He further stated that the team have a winning mindset and will look to aim for the best in the quadrennial event. “This team have been improving with every match and while we could not produce a podium finish at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, it will have no influence on how we are going to play in Australia and we will be going there with a mindset to win,” said the 43-year-old Dutch Coach.

In the previous two outings at the Commonwealth Games, India had finished second behind Australia. Skipper Manpreet Singh, however, is confident of turning the tables this time.

“Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we have some strong teams in our Pool. It’s extremely crucial to top our table and make the semifinal but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we will be up for the challenge,” asserted said the 25-year-old Manpreet.

The squad: (Goalkeepers): PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera; (Defenders): Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar,  Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas; (Midfielders): Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh (vice-captain), Sumit, Vivek Sagar Prasad; (Forwards): Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Dilpreet Singh.


Press Trust of India

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