By their own very high standards, India’s sixth place finish at June’s Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London was certainly below expectations. However, the team bounced back to winning ways in October by winning their first Asia Cup since 2007, defeating Malaysia in the competition final 2-1.
It was a perfect start to the tenure of new Head Coach Sjoerd Marijne, who replaced fellow Dutchman Roelant Oltmans in September following a period in charge of the India women’s national team. Marijne will be hoping his India side can take their excellent form from the Continental Championship into the Odisha Hockey World League Final.
Despite their notable dip in form at the World League SemiFinal competition, India’s men have enjoyed considerable success in recent years and have been forged into a team that can genuinely challenge for podium finishes at top level events. In 2015, India claimed a bronze medal in the Hockey World League, which was followed by silver at the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy.
A glorious Junior World Cup victory for their U-21 side in Raipur at the end of 2016 provided plenty of evidence that future continues to look very bright for Indian hockey. The team is captained by Manpreet Singh, who is set to make his 200th senior international appearance for his country in Bhubaneswar
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Seraj Kerkera.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh.
Forwards: S. V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant.
Who to watch: Harmanpreet Singh. One of the rising stars of the game, Harmanpreet was an influential figure as India claimed the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India at the end of 2016. A defender blessed with great composure who looks likely to have a long international career ahead of him. He netted seven times during India’s triumph at the Asia Cup 2017, making him joint top scorer alongside Faizal Saari of Malaysia
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