August 25, 2017 06:32 PM

BENGALURU (Sports Desk)

With just about 45 days to go for the much-awaited Hero Asia Cup 2017 to begin in Dhaka on October 11, the Indian men’s hockey team is back to the grind at Sports Authority of India, here for a 40-day national camp. A core group of 35 members which features as many as 13 players from last year’s Junior World Cup winning team will be put to test in the next coaching camp set to commence from August 26.

Junior World Cup Champions Vikas Dahiya (goalkeeper), defenders Dipsan Tirkey, Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, midfielders Harjeet Singh, Manpreet Junior, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and forwards Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Simranjeet Singh and Armaan Qureshi along with goalkeeper Suraj Karkera who was part of the junior core group last year find themselves in the core group.

The Indian team in their previous outing beat World No.4 Netherlands in back-to-back matches followed by a win against Austria. The five-match Europe Tour saw six Indian players make their debut with Varun Kumar, Gurjant Singh and Armaan Qureshi scoring their first international goal for the senior squad, making it a memorable tour.

While there is a strong presence of youth in the core group, the likes of experienced Sardar Singh, SV Sunil, Kothajit Singh, Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh among others will add to the fervor at the camp. “With new comers putting up a good performance in the Europe Tour, it’s an advantage for us to have a strong and bigger pool of players who will be available for selections for the Hero Asia Cup 2017,” stated the 25-year-old Manpreet Singh who led the team to three successive wins in Europe.

The midfielder further added that the team’s aim will be to finish at the top at the Hero Asia Cup 2017 and the 40-day camp will be nothing short of a grilling experience where players will have to compete against each other for a spot in the final 18 that gets to represent the country.
“There is no doubt that we need to finish the Hero Asia Cup 2017 as winners. This is an important camp where we need to set our game right and ensure there are no weak points before leaving for the tournament. The players have come with a mindset to give more than 100 per cent in each session. Each one of us regardless of being a senior or junior will have to earn our place in the team and I am sure this competition within the core group will help improve our overall performance as a team,” added an optimistic Manpreet Singh.
Core Group:
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, P.R. Sreejesh, Vikas Dahiya, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Pardeep Mor, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Jasjit Singh Kular, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar.
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet Junior, Simranjeet Singh.
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Gurjant Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Armaan Qureshi.

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