Hockey India announces squad for 2022 Asia Cup
A 20-member Indian hockey team has been announced by Hockey India for the upcoming Asia Cup. The tournament is slated to take place between May 23-June 1 in Jakarta, Indonesia. India are the defending champions at the Asia Cup. They will be led by Olympic bronze medalist Rupinder Pal Singh. Two-time Olympian, Sardar Singh, has been assigned the coaching responsibility.
Rupinder Pal Singh and Birender Lakra are the captain and vice-captain, respectively. There will be 10 fresh faces in the senior squad. The list includes Yashdeep Siwach, Manjeet, Abhisek Lakra, Vishnukant Singh, and Uttam Singh. S Karthi, Abharan Sudev, Pawan Rajbhar, Sheshe Gowda BM, and Mareeswaren Sakthivel have been added. The aforementioned were a part of the FIH Hockey Men's Junior World Cup.
Goalkeepers: Pankaj Kumar Rajak, Suraj Karkera. Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh (captain), Birendra Lakra (vice-captain), Dipsan Tirkey, Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra. Mid-fielders: Raj Kumar Pal, Vishnukant Singh, Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Simranjeet Singh. Forwards: Abharan Sudev, Pawan Rajbhar, Uttam Singh, SV Sunil, S.Karthi. Replacement players: Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Maninder Singh. Standbys: Pardeep Singh, Pawan, Ankit Pal, Angad Bir Singh.
"The team is a good mix of experienced senior players and newcomers, many of whom have played at the international level in different age-group matches but have not made their Senior India debut," said coach BJ Kariappa. He added that this tournament could help the youngsters prepare for the 2023 FIH Men's World Cup which will be held in India.
Former India captain, Sardar Singh, heaped praise on the squad. "This is a very talented group of players and I have seen them work really hard over the past few weeks to earn a place in the team. On a personal front, this will be my first tournament as India coach and I am looking forward to his new experience," he said.
The Indian men's hockey team won the Asia Cup in 2003, 2007, and 2017. They have won a staggering 43 matches from 56 fixtures at the tournament. For this event, eight participating teams have been divided into pools of two. India, Pakistan, Japan, and hosts Indonesia are in Pool A. Meanwhile, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Korea, and Oman are in Pool B.
The Indian men's Hockey team ended a 41-year-old Olympic medal drought by grabbing a bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They battered four-time winners Germany 5-4 to pocket their first medal since the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Later, they finished third at the 2021 Men's Asian Champions Trophy held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They beat arch-rivals Pakistan 4-3 to snatch the bronze medal.
India are seated atop the Men's FIH Pro League standings for 2021-22. Overall, they have won nine matches and lost three duels (including a shoot-out win and loss each). India have collected 27 points so far, scoring 54 goals and conceding 30. The third edition of the tournament commenced in October 2021 and will conclude on June 26.