Forward S. Karthi (20 years) and midfielder Mareeswaran Sakthivel (21 years) from Tamil Nadu have been included in the Indian team for the Asia Cup men’s hockey tournament to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from May 23 to June 1.
This ends a 13-year long wait for Tamil Nadu player(s) representing India in the senior team when Gunasekar and Naveen participated in the 2009 Asia Cup.
Karthi, hailing from Ariyalur, told Sportstar on Monday that he felt nervous upon hearing the news of his inclusion but insisted that he was confident of doing well if given an opportunity.
The Kovilpatti-based Mareeswaran said he will put his best foot forward.
India goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh and penalty corner specialist Rupinder Pal Singh have represented Tamil Nadu in the 2012 Bengaluru Senior National championships. While Sreejesh of Kerala-origin is still a registered TN player, Rupinder now plays for Punjab.
“This is great news for Tamil Nadu hockey and we need to build on it. We hope more players from TN represent India. Both Karthi and Mareeswaran have been in the junior & senior camps for the last three years. They have finally made it,” said Sekar J Manoharan, President of Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) here on Monday.
“Karthi and Mareeswaran came close to making the squad to the Indian junior team for the 2021 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, but missed it. HUTN wishes them the best.”
Former India player and Olympian Adam Sinclair, who was the Chief Selector for the TN men's team, which finished runner-up in the recently concluded Senior Nationals, said the inclusion of TN players will provide a facelift for State hockey and will encourage other youngsters to represent India in the future.
“If they perform well, Karthi and Mareeswaran stand a good chance of playing in the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he said.
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