Bengaluru, Aug 8: Currently into their last week of training before they head to Tokyo for the upcoming Olympic Test Event, the Indian Men's Hockey Team are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the tournament, said their vice-captain Mandeep Singh on Thursday. With some senior players like PR Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh being rested for the tournament, Defender and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh has been given the captaincy of the team, while Forward Mandeep Singh will be his deputy.
The Indian Men's Hockey team is scheduled to play three round-robin matches in the competition between August 17-20 against world no 12 Malaysia, world no 8 New Zealand and world no 16 Japan, which will see the top-two sides compete in the Final match on August 21. The Indian team, currently ranked world no 5 in the FIH Rankings, will be the top-ranked team taking part in the competition, and Singh believes that the younger players in the squad are ready to step-up in order to help the team win the tournament.
The 24-year-old Mandeep is one the most experienced players in the team, with only veterans SV Sunil and Kothajit Singh Khadangbam having won more International Caps than the Forward player. "We are going to play Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand in the Olympic Test Event, and these teams have great quality in all departments. The Test Event will give us good exposure of how the conditions are in Tokyo, and playing there will also motivate us even further to secure a position at next year's quadrennial event," added Mandeep.
The Forward who has 142 International Caps for the Indian team will be linking up with SV Sunil again in the forward-line, and says that he is excited to welcome back a player who has 250 International Caps for the country. UNI