India ready for first assignment under new coach Craig Fulton
Craig Fulton has brought back Simranjeet and Sumit into the 24-member squad
A couple of weeks into his new job, Craig Fulton has already made his intentions clear with the changes he has brought to the Indian men’s hockey squad that will be heading to Europe for the Pro League later this month.
In his first assignment as India chief coach, Fulton has brought back Simranjeet Singh into the 24-member squad. India’s Olympic hero, who scored a brace in the bronze medal match against Germany in Tokyo, has been out of the team for the last two years.
While earlier it was a knee injury that put him out of action after the Tokyo Olympics, he returned to play at the Asia Cup last year but was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. In the last two years, the forward has played only one match in the blue India jersey, against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in Jakarta.
Another Olympic bronze medallist, Sumit has also made the team after missing out on the World Cup in Odisha in January.
Drag-flicker Sanjay, who made a mark at the 2021 Junior World Cup scoring eight goals, will be making his debut at the upcoming games in London and Eindhoven which will mark the end of the Pro League campaign for India. He will be joined by four other penalty-corner specialists in skipper Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Mor.
Significantly, former India skipper Manpreet Singh has been given a new role. The captain who guided India to the Olympic bronze will be playing in defence this time around, having played most of his career as an attacking midfielder.
Goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak also returns to the squad after missing the home Pro League matches earlier in the year due to his wedding.
“I am pleased with the team we have selected for the upcoming Pro League tournament against Belgium, Holland, Great Britain and Argentina. Our current world ranking of fourth reflects the team's hard work and dedication post the World Cup," said Fulton, who is South African. “This tournament will be a great opportunity for us to compete against top-ranked teams and further improve our overall game. We are looking forward to the challenge and hope to have a strong finish to the Pro League.”
After eight matches, India top the Pro League standings with 19 points. In the first mini-tournament, the Harmanpreet-led side will face reigning Olympic champions Belgium (May 26 and June 2) and hosts Great Britain (May 27 and June 3) in London.
The team will then head to Eindhoven to take on hosts and world No.1 Netherlands (June 7 and 10) and world No.7 Argentina (June 8 and 11) which will conclude their campaign in the elite nine-team competition.
India’s 24-member squad:
Goalkeepers: Krishan Bahadur Pathak, PR Sreejesh
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sumit, Sanjay, Mandeep Mor, Gurinder Singh
Midfielders: Hardik Singh (vice-captain), Dilpreet Singh, Moirangthem Rabichandra Singh, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad
Forwards: Abhishek, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, S Karthi, Gurjant Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh.