Sardar Singh has been appointed as the captain of the 18-member hockey team here on Tuesday for the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Three new faces are also included in the team. The prestigious Ajlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, will be played from March 3 to 10, in which world number one Australia, Number two Argentina, England, Ireland and host Malaysia teams will participate.
Sardar has been out in the team for some time and he has not been selected in the team in the last two tournaments. He played for the last time in the Asia Cup from India but after that he was not selected for the team for the Hockey World League Final and New Zealand tour in December.
The team’s regular captain Manpreet Singh has been rested for this tournament. Sardar wants to play for the 2020 Olympics but this year is to be the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup, and in this, he will have the last chance to influence the national selectors as the Ajlan Shah Cup because the Indian team is giving preference to young players.
Coach Marin also indicated that the Sardar would have a big chance to influence the team management so that his name could be considered for future tournaments.
He said, “Sardar is one of the main players in core group and in the absence of Manpreet Singh, he has been selected for this work. He is an experienced player and can not play in the last two tournaments. This will have an opportunity to show their skills.
Where Sardar was given the command of the team while Forward Ramandeep Singh will be the Deputy Captain of the team, in which three new players have been included in the form of Mandeep Mor, Sumit Kumar and Shailanand Lakra.
Marin said, “Like the New Zealand tour, in which four players made their debut in international hockey, Ajlan Shah Cup will be a great opportunity for these new players to show their skills against top teams.”
Sumit Kumar (Junior) is currently a part of senior men’s national camp, whereas Mandeep Mor and Shalanand Lakra have been included in the team from Junior Men’s Core Group. They were also part of the Indian junior team winning the bronze medal in Sultan Johor Cup last year.Coach Marin believes that keeping in mind the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, it is important to give these young players an opportunity.
He said, “The young players who perform well in New Zealand and some others will get the opportunity to play in the international level and help us in creating a bigger group. Playing in their first tournament will be challenging for them, but it will also give an opportunity to senior players to help youngsters. With Sardar Singh in the mid-line, SK Uthappa, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma and Simranjeet Singh will play their part.
The responsibility of the Indian conspiracy will be on Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Dipasan Tirkey, Surender Kumar, Mandeep Mor and Neelam Sanjeev. Suraj Karra and Krishna Pathak will be goalkeepers. Advances include Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar (Junior) and Shailanand Lakra. Marin said, “This is a very important tournament for the players going on this tour because this will give them an opportunity to gain experience of high level competitiveness against teams such as Australia and Argentina. This will give them an opportunity to show their skills at the international level and another opportunity to ensure their place in the team for future tournaments.
“The team is as follows: Goalkeepers: Suraj Karra, Krishna B Pathak
Defense: Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Dipasan Tirkey, Surender Kumar, Mandeep Mor, Neelam Sanjeev Mid-Line: S.K. Uthappa, Sardar Singh (Captain), Sumit, Neelkant Sharma, Simranjeet Singh