Gurbaj returns to India`s hockey World Cup squad
New Delhi: Experienced mid-fielder Gurbaj Singh returned to the Indian team after almost two years as Hockey India today announced an 18-member squad for the World Cup, to be held at the Hague, the Netherlands, from May 31.
The team will be led by star mid-fielder Sardar Singh while fullback Rupinder Singh will be his deputy.
Gurbaj, 25, last represented India in the 2012 London Olympic Games before being dropped for poor form. He was also a member of the 2007 Asia Cup winning squad in Chennai.
Talented midfielder Jasjit Singh has been given an opportunity to make his debut on the international platform.
PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh are the chosen goalkeepers with Rupinder, VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Manpreet Singh adding strength to the defence.
The team will be taking off for The Hague on May 21. India are placed in Pool "A" along with Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and Malaysia and will compete against Belgium in their first match, scheduled on the May 31.
Skipper Sardar is happy with the teams` preparations and is raring to go.
"I am honoured to lead the team while playing my second World Cup. We have the world`s best coaches who have trained us hard both physically and mentally to put up a good show and deliver better results in the matches. Each member of the team is confident of performing well and live upto the expectations of everyone," said Sardar.
A total of 33 players selected as the probables for the World Cup two months ago, went under rigorous training sessions and worked on new set of skills and techniques under coach Terry Walsh.
Speaking on the preparations of the team, coach Terry Walsh said, "There major focus was on physiological improvement and identification of the key playing concepts we believe can produce the most powerful performance with appropriate implementation."
"The World Cup in Holland is a huge challenge for us and we as a team of players and support staff are really excited with the opportunities ahead. Nothing will be easy, we know that. We are excited about being measured alongside the world's best. We are honoured to have the victorious World Champions of 1975 with us and we hope we can produce performances they and the rest of Indian hockey can be proud."
Team: Captain - Sardar Singh, Golakeepers - PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh, Defenders - Gurbaj Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Manpreet Singh, Midfielders - SK Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh and Chinglensana Singh, Forward - SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Mandeep Singh.