South Asian Games: Gurbaj returns, Ritu Rani to lead eves

The men’s team, which is not full-strength, will be under coach B.J. Kariappa with Antil as the captain. SAG will see the Indian eves play against Sri Lanka and Nepal while the men’s team will be competing with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and arch-rivals Pakistan.

Gurbaj Singh returns to the side after the revocation of a nine-month ban on him for indiscipline.   -  Getty Images

Controversial midfielder Gurbaj Singh today returned to the Indian men’s hockey team to be led by Mandeep Antil, while the experienced Ritu Rani was handed reins of the women’s squad for the 12th South Asian Games from February 5 to 16 in Guwahati and Shillong. The hockey matches will be hosted at Moullana MD. Tayabullah Hockey Stadium, Bhetapara in Guwahati from February 7 to 14.

The South Asian Games will see the Indian eves play against Sri Lanka and Nepal while the men’s team will be competing with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and arch-rivals Pakistan.

The men’s team, which is not full-strength, will be under coach B.J. Kariappa with Antil as the captain. The side features Vikas Dahiya and Pankaj Rajak as goalkeepers while Gaganpreet Singh, Chiyanna AB, Sukhmanjeet Singh, Nilam Sanjip Xess, Ajitesh Roy and the experienced Gurbaj will form the defence line for the team. Gurbaj returns to the side after the revocation of a nine-month ban on him for indiscipline.

The midfield line includes Manpreet Singh, Mangal Singh Chahal, Vikas Chaudhary, Ajay Yadav and Pradhan Sommanna, Mohd Umar, Anup Amarpal Valmiki, Mandeep Antil, P.L. Thimmanna, Gagandeep Singh and Ajit Kumar Pandey will complete the forward line for team India.

“The team has been together in the camp for quite some time now and the boys are quite upbeat about putting in a strong show at the 12th South Asian Games. We hope to convert our Silver at the last edition of the South Asian Games into Gold this year and will surely put on display our best game,” Kariappa said.

The 18-member Indian eves will player under the guidance of chief coach Neil Hawgood and Rani, Hockey India said in a release.

This team will see Yogita Bali and Sonal Minz guard the goal posts while Jaspreet Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Gurjeet Kaur, Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam and Ponnamma Mallamada Narendra will form the defensive wall for India.

Ritu Rani along with Deepika, Sonica, Preeti Dubey and Shyama Tirgam will form the midfield while Rani, Jyoti Gupta, Punam Barla, Neha Goyal and Soundarya Yendala will form the forward line for the team.

“This tournament is of key importance in our scheme of things. Having secured the Olympic berth it is important for us to play as many international games as possible and the 12th South Asian Games also allows us to try new players giving us a much wider spread of talent to choose from for the Upcoming Rio Olympics,” Hagwood said.

Squads:

Women’s team:

Goalkeepers: Yogita Bali, Sonal Minz. Defenders: Jaspreet Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Gurjeet Kaur, Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Ponnamma Mallamada Narendra. Midfielders: Ritu Rani (captain), Deepika (vice-captain), Sonica, Preeti Dubey, Shyama Tirgam. Forwards: Rani, Jyoti Gupta, Punam Barla, Neha Goyal, Soundarya Yendala.

Men’s team:

Goalkeepers: Vikas Dahiya, Pankaj Rajak. Defenders: Gaganpreet Singh, Chiyanna A.B., Sukhmanjeet Singh, Nilam Sanjip Xess, Ajitesh Roy (vice-captain), Gurbaj Singh. Midfielders: Manpreet Singh Mangal Singh Chahal, Vikas Chaudhary, Ajay Yadav, Pradhan Sommanna P. Forwards: Mohd. Umar, Anup Amarpal Valmiki, Mandeep Antil, P.L. Thimmanna, Gagandeep Singh, Ajit Kumar Pandey.