FIH Pro League: Indian men’s hockey team heads to Johannesburg for clash against SA, FranceFebruary 5, 2022
The Indian men’s hockey team left for Johannesburg on Friday for its FIH Pro League showdowns against South Africa and France from February 8 to 13 with senior forward Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and mid-fielder Jaskaran Singh ruled out at the last minute due to “illness”.
The Manpreet Singh-led squad will arrive in Johannesburg via Doha. They will play France in the first match on February 8 and take on South Africa on February 9. They will again play France on February 12 and hosts South Africa on the following day.
While the team is upbeat and eager to begin their FIH Pro League campaign on a positive note, it received a minor setback with two senior players replaced due to illness. “India forward Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Jaskaran Singh will not be joining the team for South Africa. Standbys Sumit will replace Jaskaran in the mid-field and Gursahibjit Singh will replace Lalit,” chief coach Graham Reid said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
“Though it is a minor setback for us, we were always prepared for such a scenario and had the option of having five standbys,” he explained. Sixteen of the 33-strong core group had tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks back in January and it is not clear whether Upadhyay and Singh are in any way affected by that outbreak. The federation did not specify the exact nature of the duo’s illness. Reid said core group has enough depth and options with players who are capable of performing at the international level.
“This is the best part about having a group of 33 players who are all capable of putting up a good show on any given day. They are able to step up and perform for the team. “We continue to remain upbeat about our campaign and look forward to some good hockey in Johannesburg,” added Reid.
Four more exciting FIH Hockey Pro League matches to be played in Valencia, Spain.
Skipper Manpreet said the side is capable of upsetting any big team in the tournament. “I think we are all thrilled to be travelling again for some good International hockey. While we will miss Lalit and Jaskaran, the team is well prepared and most importantly we are all hungry for some good matches against South Africa and France,” he said.
“Both South Africa and France are very capable of upsetting any big team of the world and we can’t take them lightly. It will be interesting to see how well we will execute our plans which we have been trying out at the national camp.”
The Indian Team: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Pathak. Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Jugraj Singh. Mid-fielders: Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad. Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Gursabjit Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Dilpreet Singh, Abhishek.