[India], Oct 06 (ANI): Hockey India on Thursday announced the squad for the fourth edition of the Asian Champions trophy organized by the Asian Hockey Federation which will be held in Kuantan, Malaysia, starting 20 October.
The 18-member squad will be led by goalkeeper P.R Sreejesh while 24-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh will be his deputy for the tournament.
Defender Jasjit Singh Kular, from India's hockey hub Sansarpur, finds himself in the squad and will be expected to double-up as drag flicker in place of V R Raghunath who is rested for the tournament.
Making a strong comeback after a long lay-off due to injury is Birendra Lakra, who showed his prowess in the recently held Obaidullah Khan Heritage Hockey Cup in Bhopal and the MCC-Murugappa Cup in Chennai. He will form India's defence along with the experienced Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar and Pardeep Mor.
While the midfield line-up remains unchanged, the forwardline will miss Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh. The duo will be replaced by Talwinder Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Scheduled two months after the Olympic Games, the men's Asian Champions Trophy will see India, Korea, Japan, China and hosts Malaysia challenge defending champions Pakistan.
"The Asian Champions Trophy is an important tournament for us and going by the world rankings, India will go in as favourites to win the title. The team has been upbeat since their return to the camp after the Olympic Games and are eager to start the season on a winning note," expressed Roelant Oltmans, chief coach of Indian men's hockey team.
Meanwhile, captain P.R Sreejesh emphasised on playing with caution. "We may be the top ranked team in Asia right now but no team can be taken lightly. The defending Champions (Pakistan) are known to spring a surprise and Korea too will be a team to watch out for as they have been playing good quality hockey lately," stated the goalkeeper.
The 18-member squad is as follows:
(Goalkeepers) P.R Sreejesh, Akash Chikte, (Defenders) Rupinder Pal Singh, Pardeep Mor, Jasjit Singh Kular, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, (Midfielders) Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Manpreet Singh (Vice Captain), Sardar Singh, S.K Uthappa, Devindar Walmiki (Forwards) Talwinder Singh, S.V Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay Nikkin Thimmaiah, Affan Yousuf. (ANI)