Indian teams for hockey Olympic Qualifiers announced

Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh were axed from the Indian men's hockey team squad for the Olympic Qualifiers against Russia on November 1-2.

The men's team for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers against Russia.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Rupinder Pal Singh is back into the national reckoning after impressing the coaches during the recent Europe tour and has been named in the 18-member squad for the Hockey Olympic Qualifiers.

The Indian men’s and women’s squads for the competition were announced on Friday with Rupinder making the cut. Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh from the 20-member side that toured Europe for a five-match series have been dropped from the final squad.

“We have chosen a well balanced side with a number of good flexible options. We now need to focus on strategies against Russia, and ensure we are at our best when we step onto the field on 1st and 2nd November,” chief coach Graham Reid said on the team composition.

Rupinder’s inclusion takes the number of penalty corner experts in the side to four, in addition to Varun Kumar, Harmapreet Singh and Amit Rohidas. With the team’s conversion rate steadily being disappointing in recent times, the team would be hoping Rupinder’s experience would help it get better against World No. 22 Russia. India last faced Russia in the Hockey Series Finals in June at home.

READ | Reid happy with team’s consistency ahead of Olympic Qualifiers

India's women's hockey team for the Olympic Qualifiers against USA.   -  Biswaranjan Rout


The women’s squad, however, remains the same as the one that toured England for its preparatory matches. While the men remained undefeated on their tour, the Indian women lost just one game to the reigning Olympic champion and coach Sjoerd Marijne expressed confidence in his players maintaining the consistency against USA, currently 13th in the world.

“We have retained the 18-member team from our preparatory tour of England. We have a good balance of players and, keeping in mind our objective of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, I feel it is important to stay in the rhythm with the same players who performed well on the preparatory tour. We now focus on making sure that we leave no stone unturned when we take on USA,” Marijne said.

Both teams would play two back-to-games with the winner on aggregate points booking a ticket for Tokyo.

Indian Men's Hockey Team:

P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Amit Rohidas, Manpreet Singh (Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, S.V. Sunil (Vice-Captain), Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh


Indian Women's Hockey Team:

Savita (Vice-Captain), Rajani Etimarpu, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Namita Toppo, Rani Rampal(Captain),  Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Sharmila Devi