The Azlan Shah Cup, one of the premier hockey tournaments is set to begin on Saturday in Malaysia and India will hope to begin the season on a strong note. India is set to take on Great Britain in the opener of the tournament and will use the opportunity to test skills of many of their emerging players.
Indian hockey team will also play the Asia Cup and the FIH Hockey World League finals in Bhubaneswar in 2017. Further, the year 2018 will bring with it the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth games.
This tournament is thus, seen as a precursor to other important events of the future. India possess six youngsters and three debutants in their squad. The 18-member party includes Junior Hockey World Cup Winners Harjeet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh, as well as some new players like Sumit, Gurinder Singh and others.
The Indian team has had decent outings in their last few tournaments and would be looking forward to continue their form in this one too. This is one area which troubles coach Roelant Oltmans and he stressed on winning more important events.
Coming into this tournament, India had a 40-day long national camp where the players were put through a tough regime involving nearly five-six hours of intense training.
PR Sreejesh is the captain and goalkeeper of the team and his inspirational leadership will be severely tested in the tournament. Manpreet Singh will be his deputy and he will be joined by the experienced Sardar Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Harjeet Singh, Sumit and Manpreet in the midfield.
The 2017 edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which is scheduled to run from April 29 to May 6, will see Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea vie for top honours along with India. Pakistan and Canada are not participating in this edition of the tournament.
SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Akashdeep Singh.
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam , Sumit, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh (Vice-Captain), Harjeet Singh, Manpreet.
Defenders: Pardeep Mor, Surender Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (Captain), Suraj Karkera.