India will look to gain momentum before the Tokyo Olympics.
Manpreet Singh will lead the Indian men’s hockey team against Olympic champions Argentina in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches on 11th and 12 April 2021 in Buenos Aires. Hockey India announced the 22-member squad on Tuesday.
The Indian Team will also play two practice matches against the home team on 6th and 7th April 2021 ahead of their FIH Hockey Pro League clash followed by two more practice matches on 13th and 14 April 2021 as part of their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games this July.
India’s tour of Argentina will see the return of experienced midfielder and skipper Manpreet Singh who had opted out of the recent Europe tour due to personal reasons while his compatriot and experienced dragflick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh as well as Varun Kumar, who had missed out on the previous tour owing to rehab, will also be back in the mix for India.
The 22-member squad led by Manpreet Singh and vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh includes goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak. Amit Rohidas, Gurinder Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Raj Kumar Pal, Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh, Gurjant Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay remain unchanged from the previous tour. The team also includes Jaskaran Singh, Sumit and Shilanand Lakra who will be playing their first international match in over a year.
Meanwhile experienced players Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Simranjeet Singh who were part of the Europe Tour have been rested.
“Once again, we are excited about being able to travel overseas for international competition. We are taking a 22-man squad attempting to provide a good balance between giving experience to those players who need it and opportunities for players to perform on the international stage in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics,” stated chief coach Graham Reid about the team selection.
Reid further stated, “We will be playing four practice games against Argentina and two all-important FIH Hockey Pro League matches. To play the Olympic champions is always an honour and a privilege in our sport and especially challenging to play them in their own country. Argentina play a different style of game to the teams we played in Europe, and we will be using this tour as a great opportunity to continue our growth and development before Tokyo.”
“These games will provide opportunities to hone our skills and tactics in a period where all teams have been starved of international competition. Given how challenging it is to move around the world like we once did, we appreciate the efforts of SAI, Hockey India, Argentine Hockey Confederation (CAH) and FIH for making these matches possible.”
The Indian Team will leave for Buenos Aires on 31 March for the 16-day tour from Bengaluru following the mandatory RTPCR tests within 72 hours prior to their departure.