Hockey: Varun, Nilkanta back in 24-member men’s team for four-nation event in Spain

With an eye on preparing the squad for the Asian Games to be held later in the year at Hangzhou, India’s chief national coach for the men’s team Craig Fulton has made some changes to the squad for the four-nation tournament to be held in Spain from July 25-30.

With an eye on preparing the squad for the Asian Games to be held later in the year at Hangzhou, India’s chief national coach for the men’s team Craig Fulton has made some changes to the squad for the four-nation tournament to be held in Spain from July 25-30.

Defenders Varun Kumar and Nilam Sanjeep Xess along with Sumit and Nilakanta Sharma returned to the side as Hockey India on Friday announced a 24-member men’s team for the four-nation 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation – International Tournament to be held in Terrasa, Spain.

India will play against England, Netherlands, and hosts Spain in the four-nation tournament which will serve as the preparatory event for the Indian team ahead of the much-awaited Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai, which will be followed by the crucial Hangzhou Asian Games 2023.

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Fulton said he is checking out players from the core group that could not be included in the squad for the FIH Hockey Pro League matches in London and Eindhoven. This same squad along with a couple of additions like Akashdeep Singh will also represent the country in the Asian Champions Trophy to be played in Chennai in August.

“As we can only take 18 players for the Pro League, I did not get the opportunity to look at other players in the core group. So, we are trying them out in Spain and two more players will join us in Chennai for the Asian Champions Trophy,” Fulton said in a virtual press interaction on Friday.

The team will continue to be led by ace drag-flicker and defender Harmanpreet Singh and Vice-Captained by the prolific midfielder Hardik Singh.

The goalkeeping department will be entrusted to the seasoned PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak, while the defenders’ list includes Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, and Sanjay. Also, defenders Varun Kumar and Nilam Sanjeep Xess, who missed the FIH Pro League matches in Europe, have been named in the team, Hockey India informed in a release on Friday.

The midfield will be controlled by Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Raj Kumar Pal along with Sumit and Nilakanta Sharma, who are back in the squad after missing the Pro League matches.

The forward line comprises the experienced Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Abhishek, Pawan, Dilpreet Singh, Simranjeet Singh, and Karthi Selvam.

Speaking on the team selection, Fulton said, “We have carefully chosen a balanced squad that brings together experience and youthful energy. Our aim is to create a cohesive unit that can compete at the highest level.”

“The four-nation tournament in Spain will provide us with the perfect platform to fine-tune our strategies and test our skills against top-quality opposition. It will help us identify areas that need improvement, thus playing a vital role in our preparations for the Asian Champions Trophy and the Asian Games. We are confident that this exposure will enhance our performance and help us gear up for the challenges that lie ahead,” he added.

Indian squad:

Goalkeepers: Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran, Krishan Bahadur Pathak

Defenders: Jarmanpreet Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Manpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Harmanpreet Singh (C), Varun Kumar, Sanjay

Midfielders: Hardik Singh (VC), Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh, Rajkumar Pal

Forwards: Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Abhishek, Pawan, Dilpreet Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Karthi Selvam.

-IANS

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