Manpreet Singh, who led India to a bronze at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, will captain India in the upcoming FIH Pro League matches against South Africa and France, which will be played in Potchefstroom, South Africa, from February 8-12.
Hockey India on Thursday named a 20-member Indian men’s hockey squad for the South Africa tour with drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh as Manpreet’s deputy, Hockey India informed in a press release on Thursday.
The men’s team will start a busy season, which includes the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, later this year leading up to the senior men’s World Cup in Odisha in January 2023, with the four Pro League matches.
The team will see two new faces in promising young drag-flicker Jugraj Singh and speedy forward Abhishek. Jugraj, who is from Attari, Amritsar, came into the senior national camp for the very first time in January 2022 after he impressed the national selectors during the 1st Hockey India Senior Men Inter-Department National Championship where he turned up for Services Sports Control Board.
Abhishek, on the other hand, is a striker who was earlier part of the juniors program and had played for India Colts in the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2017 and 2018. From Sonepat, Haryana, Abhishek did well for Punjab National Bank in the 1st Hockey India Senior Men Inter-Department National Championship, which helped him earn a spot in the Senior National Camp for the first time.
The 20-member squad includes goalkeepers PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak, defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Jugraj Singh.
Midfield will see Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Shamsher Singh, and Vivek Sagar Prasad in action. The forward line includes Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Akashdeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Dilpreet Singh, and Abhishek.
Speaking about the team, chief coach Graham Reid said, “With a very busy and important year ahead, the Indian team is excited to be back on the world stage and playing in the latest edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League. After a three-week camp in Bengaluru, a team has been selected that includes 14 Tokyo Olympians and 2 debutants.”
“We have tried to choose an experienced group that will not only give us a great opportunity to start this season of the FIH Hockey Pro League in a positive manner — it reflects the high quality of opposition we will encounter in the opening games. We are also using this opportunity to debut 2 new players. Jugraj Singh, a versatile defender/midfielder who adds to our drag-flick options and Abhishek is a strong, fast striker, who loves scoring goals,” Reid added.
The Indian Team will leave for South Africa from Bengaluru on February 4. They will play France in the first match on February 8 and then take on South Africa the next day. They will play France on February 12 and hosts South Africa on the following day to complete their engagements on this tour.
Indian squad: Goalkeepers: Sreejesh PR, Krishan Bahadur Pathak; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh (vice-captain), Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Jugraj Singh; Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad; Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Akashdeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Dilpreet Singh, Abhishek.
Standbys: Suraj Karkera, Mandeep Mor, Raj Kumar Pal, Sumit, Gursahibjit Singh.