Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Indian World Cup team to be announced today

The Indian senior men’s hockey team for the 2014 World Cup will be announced later today. The national selection committee chaired by former forward and Olympian BP Govinda along with team’s head coach Terry Walsh will name the 18-member squad.

All eyes will be on whether ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh will be picked in the World Cup-bound squad or not. The Haryana DSP is expected to feel the selection heat from the likes of fellow drag-flickers Vokkaliga Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Gurjinder Singh.

It may be noted that Sandeep’s movements and agility on the field have often been questioned and it remains to be seen whether he has done enough in the preparatory camp to merit a national selection.

Experienced Gurbaj Singh, who was overlooked by the selectors since the disastrous London Olympics campaign, forced his way into the side for the recent Dutch exposure trip on the back of a robust HIL showing for Delhi Waveriders, is another one who could make the cut as the midfield needs his experience.

The likes of SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh, who all have recovered from various injuries sustained in recent months, are expected to board the flight to The Hague. It is on expected lines that Sardar Singh will lead the side for the big-ticket event.

The national team is going through the paces at its ongoing camp at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.

India will play two practice games before their opening World Cup tie against Belgium on May 31. India will play their first warm-up game against 12th ranked South Africa and then face 11th ranked Argentina in their second practice game. These two games will enable the team to fine-tune their preparations for the big-ticket event.

It may be noted that India had embarked on a week-long tour of the Netherlands last month – they played five games – winning one, drawing one and losing three matches. India had played against the national sides of Belgium and Netherlands.

India had launched their Dutch tour with a thumping 7-0 win over Leiden Hockey Club before playing out a 3-3 draw with HGC. India lost to Belgium 1-2 in their third game before going down to the Netherlands 2-4 and 1-2 margins in their fourth and fifth warm-up games respectively.

(The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com)

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