The Manpreet Singh-led 18-member Indian senior men’s hockey team arrived in Kakamigahara in the Japanese city of Nagoya to take part in the third Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament beginning November 2.
The ten-day tournament is being organised by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
The national hockey selectors have picked a senior team comprising a plethora of junior players in a bid to give them maximum possible international exposure ahead of the 2013 Junior World Cup slated to be held in New Delhi from December 6-15.
It may be worth recalling that Manpreet Singh had led the Indian junior hockey team to glory in the 3rd Sultan of Johor Cup in Ipoh last month, when they pipped Malaysia at the post.
A key midfielder of the senior team, Manpreet has been one of the rapidly improving players in recent times. The youngster will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility in the third Asian Champions Trophy given the fact the team is replete with a slew of junior players.
The Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) employee will not only have to lead from the front, but will also have to get the best out of his boys if India are to fare well in the tournament, where they will be pitted against the likes of Pakistan, Malaysia, China, Oman and hosts Japan.
The Blueshirts had finished as runners-up in their last international assignment – the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh, where they lost narrowly to Korea and kept their 2014 World Cup qualifying hopes alive – India can make the cut if Australia or New Zealand win the Oceania Cup – which looks a distinct possibility given the fact that the other teams in the fray are feeble.
The inaugural men’s Asian Champions Trophy was held in Ordos, China in September 2011, where India pipped arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in a penalty shootout in a cracker of a final. Goalkeeepr PR Sreejesh emerged as the hero of the final, pulling off two crucial saves, which tipped the scales in India’s favour.
Pakistan exacted sweet revenge in the second edition held in Doha in December 2012, edging out India 5-4 in a high-voltage, controversy-tinged final match in Doha.
The squad: Goalkeepers: Sushant Tirkey, Harjot Singh; Defenders: Gurjinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Sukhmanjit Singh, Pardeep Mor; Midfielders: Prabhdeep Singh, Manpreet Singh (captain), Satbir Singh, Harjeet Singh, Imran Khan, Kothajit Singh (vice-captain); Forwards: Malak Singh, Mandeep Singh, Talwinder Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh.