New Delhi: Newly-appointed chief coach Paul van Ass recalled young strikers Mandeep Singh and Satbir singh in the 18-member Indian men’s hockey team for the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 5-12.
Among the surprising omissions, defender-penalty corner specialist Gurjinder Singh and attacking midfielder Danish Mujtaba have not found van Ass’ favour. Van Ass has decided to go with two preferred drag-flickers Rupinder Pal Singh and V.R. Raghunath.
Allahbadi link-man Mujtaba has made way for Manipuri Chinglensana Singh, who had an impressive outing for Dabang Mumbai in the Hockey India League (HIL) 2015.
The Sardar Singh-led Indian team will take on reigning world champions Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Malaysia and Canada for the title.
It will be the first assignment for Dutchman van Ass, who takes over the reins of the eight-time Olympic champions from Australian Terry Walsh.
“I look forward to a positive start by doing well in this tournament. The players and I are still getting to know each other both professionally as well as on the personal front,” he said in a release Wednesday.
Star goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh has been retained as the vice-captain and will be the senior custodian. Harjot Singh is the second goalkeeper to get a call-up.
Mandeep, 19, had a decent performance for HIL side Ranchi Rays that emerged champions in the 2015 edition. He was part of the Australian tour but didn’t play in the Champions Trophy.
Also, young striker Lalit Upadhay has not been included. Satbir and Mandeep will join Ramandeep Singh, S. V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah in the attack.
“By the intensity and efforts put in by these players on the field, during the preparations, gives me much confidence in this team and a hope to have a great start as one unit, van Ass said.
“I have seen them play in Champions Trophy last year and they are turning into a formidable line-up who are keen to take on new challenges.”
Speaking on the team announcement, skipper Sardar said: “The team composition is almost the same as Champions Trophy, though we have three new inclusions Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Satbir Singh and Mandeep Singh.”
“All three will help boost our options for attack. I think their contribution for their respective teams in 2015 HIL helped them make a comeback into the national squad,” he said.
Goalkeepers: P. R. Sreejesh, Harjot Singh
Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, V.R. Raghunath
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S. K. Uthappa
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, S. V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Satbir Singh, Mandeep Singh.