Attacking hockey with mean defence. That's what chief coach AK Bansal thinks will see India through to the Junior Men's World Cup Hockey title, organised jointly by Singapore and Malaysia (Johor Bahru) from June 7-21.
With a strong forward line and top-notch drag flicker in the form of skipper Diwakar Ram in the ranks, conceding fewer goals tops Bansal's agenda. The team management believes if the boys play according to this plan, India would be able to regain the trophy they won at Hobart, Australia, in 2001.
“We gave special attention to defence during the camp in Bhopal. If we are able to throttle the rivals, we can win the tournament as the boys are fully fit and have the ability to score goals,” Bansal told HT after reaching New Delhi on Sunday. The squad will be leaving for Singapore on June 3.
India finished runners-up in 1997 at Milton Keynes and finished fourth in 2005 at Rotterdam.
Twenty teams have been divided into four pools of five each. India are in Pool D with The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and Poland.
Before taking on Singapore on June 8 in their opening league match, India will play four practice matches, including one each against Germany and Chile.
“The practice matches will help us test our strength. Our mission is to win the coveted cup again, but at the same time we are not overconfident even though the boys have done well recently, winning the Asia Cup,” Bansal said.
Goalkeepers: M Choubey, H Singh; Full backs: D Ram, I Kullu, M Kullu; Halfs: B. Lakra, A Ekka, V Sharma, Vivek, B Horo, V Pillay; Forwards: M Antil, J Karan, D Mujtaba, P Kumar,
Mohd Amir Khan, V Singh, D Singh.
Chief coach: AK Bansal
June 8: vs Singapore
June 9: vs New Zealand June 11: vs Netherlands June 12: vs Poland.
Pool A: Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia.
Pool B: Australia, Chile, Germany, Japan, South Africa.
Pool C: England, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, USA.
Pool D: India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore.