Midfielder Manpreet Singh has been named as the captain of Indian hockey team, replacing goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, for the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat. The Hockey India announced a18-member squad for the continental tournament which starts on October 18.
Chinglensana Kangujam has been named Manpreet's deputy. Alongside experienced goalkeeper in Sreejesh, the team also features young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, while the defensive unit will see seasoned defender Kothajit Khadangbam make a comeback.
Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar and Jarmanpreet Singh will also be involved in India's defence while 20-year-old Hardik Singh will be making his debut for the senior team.
Skipper Manpreet, the recipient of this year's Arjuna Award, will be responsible of commanding the midfield along with the experienced Chinglensana.
The midfield duo will be joined by Lalit Kumar Upadhyay while Nilakanta Sharma and Sumit will also make a comeback into the side.
India's forward-line will see 23-year-old striker Gurjant Singh return to the squad while Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh will hope to score plenty of goals in Oman to help India retain the title.
It will be India’s first tournament after the retirement of Sardar Singh, and will enter as defending champions after they won the 2016 edition when they beat Pakistan 3-2 in the final in Kauntan, Malaysia.
Speaking on the team's composition, chief coach Harendra Singh said: "I believe we have a great mix of players in this 18-member team as there is a right balance between youth and experience.
"The tournament gives us the last chance to test a few players before the World Cup Bhubaneswar and I'm sure that these players will produce the results in Oman. It is important we stick to our plans and have a good outing in this tournament so that we can wash away the bad memories of the Asian Games," he said.
The Indian team will continue to train in Bhubaneswar for the next three weeks as they are undergoing a camp, following which they will leave for the Asian Champions Trophy.
The 10-day tournament will feature six teams – India, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and Oman.
India will start their campaign on October 18 against Oman, followed by clashes against Pakistan and Japan on successive days on October 20 and 21.
India, world no. five, will take on Malaysia on October 23, before concluding their round-robin round the following day with a South Korea clash.
Four top teams will qualify for the semis.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Hardik Singh
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Sumit Nilakanta Sharma, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Chinglensana Kangujam (Vice Captain)
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh.