Sardar Singh was named the skipper of the 18-member India team for the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which will begin on 3 March 2018 in Ipoh, Malaysia. The team will feature three debut players in Mandeep Mor, Sumit Kumar and Shilanand Lakra while stalwarts PR Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh have been rested.
The responsibility of vice-captain will be shouldered by forward Ramandeep Singh, “Just like the New Zealand Tour where four players made their International debut, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is a great opportunity for these new players to get international exposure against top teams,” stated Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
The Dutchman has had a solid start to his stint with the men’s team, leading them to victory in the Asia Cup. As for the newcomers, Sumit Kumar has been part of the men’s national camp. Mandeep Mor and Shilanand Lakra have been called-up from the junior men’s Core Group.
They were also part of the team that won bronze medal at the Sultan of Johor junior Cup last year. By introducing new players, Marijne is looking at long-term gains ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. “With youngsters who have done well in New Zealand as well as few more getting the right international exposure, it will only help us create a bigger group. Playing top teams in their first tournament will be challenging but this is also an opportunity for the seniors to help the youngsters adjust to this level,” added the 43-year-old added.
On Sardar Singh wearing the captain’s armband after a gap of close to two years, Marijne said, “Sardar is one of the leaders in the core group and in Manpreet Singh’s absence, he has been chosen for the job. He is an experienced player and having missed two tournaments previously, this is an opportunity for him to show his skills.”
Sardar Singh will be deployed in midfield along with SK Uthappa, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma and Simranjeet Singh. India’s defence will be guarded by Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Surender Kumar and new comers Mandeep Mor and Nilam Sanjeep Xess. The goalposts will be kept by Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak.
“This tournament is extremely important for the players who are going because it is another opportunity for them to experience high level competition especially from teams like Australia and Argentina,” Marijne said. “This is a chance for them to show their capability in the international level and ensure their place in the squad for future tournaments,” he added.
The tournament comprises of world No 1 Australia, second-ranked Argentina, England, India, Ireland and hosts Malaysia, and will end on March 10.
Goalkeepers: Suraj Karkera, Krishan B Pathak, Defenders: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Mandeep Mor, Midfieders: SK Uthappa, Sardar Singh (c), Sumit Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh (vc), Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar, Shilanand Lakra