New Delhi : Rested from India’s silver medal winning Champions Trophy campaign, Sardar Singh was on Monday named captain of the 18-man squad for the 6 Nations Invitational hockey tournament to be held in Valencia from June 27. The squad features a strong defensive line up, with experienced campaigners VR Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Kothajit Singh being joined by the returning Birender Lakra. Harmanpreet Singh and Surender Kumar provide the youth to the backline. PR Sreejesh and Vikas Dahiya are the goalkeepers included in the squad.
Sardar Singh will take over the mantle of Captain from PR Sreejesh for the tournament, which will also feature, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland and hosts Spain. “After winning our first medal at the prestigious Champions Trophy tournament over the weekend, we are confident to deliver our best at the 6 Nations Tournament as well. All these matches are stepping stones towards the ultimate goal — Rio Olympics 2016,” said Sardar.
“The brilliant display of tactical hockey during Champions Trophy by the squad has positively elevated are Olympic medal-winning hopes. Three of the teams we face in Valencia are in our Pool at the Olympic Games, so that will help us assess and analyse our tactics better too,” he added. Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans said the squad is building up nicely for the Rio Olympics. “I am really impressed by the boys with their recent performances, especially at the Champions Trophy. They are implementing the learnings of the training well into action at the tournaments. I hope we keep up the spirit and continue to deliver performances like this.
“The key to the tournament will be to use it almost as a host of friendlies, before the Games. We will try to maximize on our squad rotations, tactical experiments and analyse our opponents there,” he said. “Most teams, will come with what resembles their full strength squad and so it will give us a good indication of our strengths and weaknesses, prior to Rio.”India take on Germany in the opener on June 27.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (VC) Vikas Dahiya; Defenders: Rupinderpal Singh, VR Raghunath, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders: Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh (Captain), SK Uthappa, Devindar, Sunil Walmiki, Harjeet Singh; Forwards: Talwinder Singh SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah.