New Delhi, Jan 13: Hockey India on Monday announced a 20-member men's team for the season opener of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 to be held at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Indian team led by Manpreet Singh will take on World No 3 Netherlands in opening encounter on January 18 and 19.
Chief Coach Graham Reid's team will see the return of experienced midfielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam who has not been in competition since the 9th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2019 (A Division) in February where he led the Railways team to victory.He suffered an ankle fracture in the final that kept him out of action.
Young gun Sumit too will make his comeback after he suffered a wrist injury in June during the FIH Men's Series final where India had beaten South Africa. Apart from captain Manpreet Singh and Vice-Captain, Harmanpreet Singh as, the team includes PR Sreejesh, Krishan B Pathak, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar and the experienced Birendra Lakra.
Dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma too have received a callup. Meanwhile, striker Gurjant Singh has been rewarded with a place in the team for his commitment and hard-work shown in the national coaching camp. He will join SV Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Gursahibjit Singh and Kothajit Singh Khadangbam.
"We have chosen a relatively experienced team to take on the Netherlands this weekend in Bhubaneswar. While Varun Kumar will be back in training this week after suffering a nerve injury during the Olympic Qualifiers, he wasn’t able to be considered for selection, ' stated Chief Coach Graham Reid. 'We will, however, get a chance to see Chinglensana return to international competition after a full year out and Sumit returns after a six-month hand injury.
Both have been training well and are physically fit. Gurjant has also shown great form in training and has earned his spot back in the team," he added.
Reid further expressed that it will be crucial to be sharp in the FIH Hockey Pro League as the team will be taking on the World's best teams, including the Netherlands (18-19 January), Belgium (8-9 February), Australia (21-22 February).
"It will be important to start strong and sharp in the Pro League with our first 3 encounters against the top 3 teams in the world. We will be focussing on getting our structures right and honing our set plays as preparation for our Olympic campaign, “the coach said. (UNI)