Manpreet Singh replaces injured Sreejesh as India hockey captain

The half-back will lead India in the 3-Nations Invitational Tournament and the Hockey World League semifinal next month.

Manpreet Singh (in picture) will have Chinglensana Singh Kangujam as his deputy.   -  Getty Images

Half-back Manpreet Singh was named the Indian hockey captain for next month’s 3-Nations Invitational Tournament in Germany and the World League semifinal in England after regular skipper P. R. Sreejesh was ruled out due to a knee injury.

The 3-Nations Invitational Tournament will be played in Dusseldorf, Germany from June 1. It will be followed by the Hockey World League semifinal in London, commencing June 15.

The 18-member team will play two matches each against host Germany and Belgium before arriving in London for the Hockey World League Semifinal where India is grouped with Canada, Netherlands, Pakistan and Scotland in Pool B. The team led by Manpreet, with Chinglensana Singh Kangujam as his deputy, has Pardeep Mor and Kothajit Singh join the defence line along with Surender Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh, Hockey India stated in a press release.

Harmanpreet and Rupinder will continue to be penalty corner specialists while Akash Chikte and Vikas Dahiya will shoulder goal-keeping for the team in the absence of Sreejesh, who sustained an injury while playing against Australia in the league stage at the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Tournament.

The midfield will feature S. K. Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Harjeet Singh, Chinglensana Singh and the experienced Manpreet and Sardar Singh. Both Uthappa and Satbir were rested for the previous tournament in Malaysia where the team won a bronze medal. The Indian forward-line will see Ramandeep Singh come back into the fold, joining S. V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Talwinder Singh and Mandeep Singh in the attack.

‘Aim to finish in top two’

“The idea was to bring in a couple of changes in positions after Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Like I had said before, there are three tours this year, including Azlan Shah Cup where we would like to give opportunities to younger players,” chief coach Roelant Oltmans said. “Though we are taking a few players who are not that experienced, we still want to do well and the aim is to finish in top two at the Men’s Hockey World League semifinal and I look forward to see how the boys will perform against big teams,” he added.

According to the Dutchman, the biggest takeaway from the season opener in Malaysia was the team’s improvised style of play and ball possession. “We were fast and also when we compared statistics, we had better ball possession (about 62 per cent on an average) which is a big improvement from previous years. But I would like to see our conversion rate in field goals and [penalty corners] to improve from a 20 per cent and 24 per cent respectively,” stated Oltmans.

The team resumed the national camp on May 14 and will continue until May 28 before leaving for Germany on May 29.

The Squad:

Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Vikas Dahiya

Defenders: Pardeep Mor, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh

Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (vice-captain), S. K. Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh (captain), Harjeet Singh

Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, S. V. Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh.

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