Prabodh to lead Indian hockey team in Olympic qualifiers

February 22nd, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, Feb 22 (IANS) Left half Prabodh Tirkey has been retained captain of the Indian team for the men’s Olympic hockey qualifying tournament in Santiago, Chile Mar 1-9. The team, announced by Indian Hockey Federation Secretary-General K. Jothikumaran Friday has four changes from the squad that took part in the Champions Challenge tournament in Boom, Belgium, last year.

Back in the team are goalkeeper Bharat Chetri who replaces an injured Adrian D’Souza; promising full-back and drag-flick specialist Diwakar Ram comes in for Jaswinder Singh; forwards Bharat Chhikara and rookie Ajitesh Rai were selected in place of Roshan Minz and S.V. Sunil.

India, along with hosts Chile, Britain, Mexico, Austria and Russia (who replaced Bangladesh), will contest for the last qualifying spot left for the Beijing Olympics.

“The team has a good mix of youth and experience and we hope to do well in Santiago,” said chief coach Joaquim Carvalho.

“All the teams coming to Santiago will have the same object of qualifying for the Olympics and so we cannot take any match lightly.

“We had a good training-cum-competition programme in Perth earlier this month. All the players are fit and we have no injury worries,” he said while pointing out that both Sardara Singh and Prabhjot Singh have fully recovered from minor injuries.

The squad contains several promising youngsters like Diwakar Ram, Raghunath, Sardara Singh and Ajitesh Rai, while the midfield will be manned by experienced campaigners in skipper Prabodh Tirkey, his elder brother Ignace, Bimal Lakra and Gurbaj Singh.

The forward line looks robust with the likes of Rajpal Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Shivendra Singh manning key positions while the deep defence will be in the hands of veteran Dilip Tirkey and young William Xalxo.

The team:

Goalkeepers: Baljit Singh, Bharath Chetri. Defenders: Dilip Tirkey, William Xalco, V Ramachandra Ragunath, Diwakar Ram. Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Bimal Lakra, Sardara Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey (captain), Vikram Kanth. Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Shivendra Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Bharat Chhikara, Ajitesh Rai. Coach: Joaquim Carvalho.

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