Home Sports No change in hockey team’s core group, focus on development

No change in hockey team’s core group, focus on development

By Avishek Roy, IANS,

Bhopal : The core group of the national hockey team will remain unchanged and the selectors have picked several youngsters for the developmental side, seeing their performance in the senior national championship that concluded here Sunday.

The national selectors, who were camping here since June 10, picked 48 probables for the national camp and 37 for the developmental side. The list will be submitted to Hockey India (HI) for approval and the national camp will begin shortly.

The senior national championship, which was conducted after five years and the first by Hockey India (HI), was supposed to throw up some much-needed talented players who could replace the seniors.

Karnataka defender S.K. Uthappa, who was adjudged the player of the tournament, will be a new face in the senior national camp. The selectors were also impressed with some youngsters from Orissa, Punjab, Karnataka and Jharkhand.

Orissa, comprising mostly juniors, made it to the quarterfinals while a young Jharkhand side upset Services and Railways to make the semifinal of the national championship.

The selectors, however, felt that the youngsters should be drafted in the developmental side to provide them with exposure before they graduate to the senior team. India will host the Champions Trophy and the Olympic qualifiers later this year.

“The young players need some exposure to get ready for international matches. They need experience to play at the top level. We will keep a close watch on the developmental side and monitor their progress. If any player performs well, we will push him into the senior side,” a selector told IANS.

Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and defender Sardara Singh, who were left out of the Azlan Shah squad as they were playing in the Belgian league, have been recalled to the camp. The two Haryana players are also facing an inquiry for not obtaining an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from Hockey India for playing in Belgium.

Sandeep finished as the second best scorer in the tournament with 11 goals, one goal less then top scorer Karnataka’s V.R. Raghunath, who also features in the core group and has staked a strong claim to make a return to the national squad after a year. Sardara was adjudged the best defender of the tournament.

“Sandeep and Sardara have been picked for the camp and hopefuly the other issues will be sorted out,” said the selector.