Indian hockey team for Azlan Shah tournament announced

United News of India

New Delhi, April 19, 2011

A new-look 18-member team was today announced by Hockey India (HI) for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament starting May 5 in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Veteran forward Arjun Halappa will spearhead India's challenge while Harendra Singh, who was deputy to Jose Brasa, will hold the coaching reins after the Spaniard's exit. At least half a dozen senior players were ignored for the event.

Rajpal Singh, the previous captain who had resigned following a public spat with Jose Brasa, was not named in the team.

Besides Rajpal, who is yet to fully recover from an injury, the squad, announced after a two-day trial here, does not have drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and defender Sardara Singh, besides mid-fielder Bharat Chikara and striker Tushar Khandekar.

"The selectors have picked the best available squad. We have left out some six-seven senior players as they are not fully fit. We are taking Azlan Shah as a build-up and it will give a good exposure to the young players," Harendra Singh told mediapersons here.

"Our main aim is to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and do well in the Champions Trophy. The main objective is to have a core group of 24-28 players for the Olympic qualifiers. We need to qualify for the Olympics," he said.

Sandeep and Sardara were apparently not considered for the tournament as they did not report for the national camp, which began from May 1 at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Harendra said Rajpal has been suffering from a lower abdominal pain and has been rested in view of more important tournaments ahead.

"Rajpal is suffering from lower abdominal pain. There is no treatment for this other than strengthening the abdominal muscle and taking rest. He has not played much in recent times. We did not want to take any chances. He is a crucial player. We will need him in future tournaments," he said.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Bharat Kumar Chetri; Adrian D'Souza.

Defenders: Dhananjay Mahadik, Rupinder Pal Singh, Diwakar Ram.

Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Vikas Pillay, Vikram Pillay, Arjun Halappa (capt), Ravi Pal, Danish Mujtaba, Vikas Sharma.

Forwards: Shivendra Singh, S V Sunil, Mandeep Antil, Sarvanjeet Singh, Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Roshan Minz.

Standbys: P R Sreejesh, William Xalxo, Gurjinder Singh, Birendra Lakra, Preetinder Singh, Bikash Toppo.