BENGALURU, Jun 18
India on Friday named 10 Olympic debutants in its 16-member men's hockey squad for the Tokyo Games.
Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay are the 10 players who will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo. The squad includes six seasoned campaigners - goalkeeper Sreejesh; midfielder Manpreet; defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, and Surender Kumar; and forward Mandeep Singh. These players were a part of the previous Olympic squad in Rio de Janeiro.
Veteran defender Birendra Lakra, who missed the 2016 Games due to a knee injury, has also been named to the side.
Krishan Pathak misses out
The team has only one goalkeeper in Sreejesh, which means promising Krishan Bahadur Pathak missed out on an Olympic berth despite being an integral part of the team in the lead up to the Games.
The Olympic-bound Indian team has five defenders, five midfielders, and as many forwards. The notable absentees in the squad are strikers Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh, both of whom were a part of the Rio Games team.
It is expected that Manpreet will continue to be captain.
"It has not been an easy process to make the final selection of 16 players as there is a lot of quality and ambition in this group of players. The performance levels of all the athletes are at an optimum level and more importantly, they work well together," Indian men's team chief coach Graham Reid said in a statement issued by HI.
"They know what it means to represent the country at the Olympics. We are now focussed on training with the same intensity and our goal is to put forward our best performance as a collective unit in Tokyo," he added.
'Headed in the right direction'
HI president Gyanendro Ningombam wished the team success. "The recent performance against Olympic champions Argentina at the FIH Pro League shows they are headed in the right direction. I wish them all the best," he said.
The Indian men's hockey team has a rich Olympic history having won the gold medal eight times in the past, But this time around, it will be looking to break its four-decade-long Olympic medal drought. India won the last of its eight Olympic gold medals in the 1980 Moscow Games.
The Indian men's team has been clubbed alongside defending champion Argentina, three-time world champion, and current world No. 1 Australia, New Zealand, Spain and host Japan in Pool A.
Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra
Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit
Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh PTI