Rupinder Pal Singh, who had an impressive tour of Europe tour, has been named in the 18-member squad for the Hockey Olympic Qualifiers.
The Indian men’s and women’s squads for the competition were announced on Friday. Birendra Lakra and Kothajit Singh from the 20-member side that toured Europe have been dropped.
“We have chosen a well balanced side with a number of flexible options. We now need to focus on strategies against Russia, and ensure we are at our best when we step onto the field on November 1 and 2,” chief coach Graham Reid said.
Rupinder’s inclusion takes the number of penalty-corner experts in the side to four, in addition to Varun Kumar, Harmapreet Singh and Amit Rohidas. With the team’s conversion rate taking a dip in recent times, the team would be hoping Rupinder’s experience comes in handy.
India last played World No. 22 Russia in the Hockey Series Finals in June at home.
The women’s squad, however, remains the same as the one that toured England for preparatory matches. While the men remained undefeated on the tour, the women lost just one game.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne expressed confidence in his players maintaining the consistency against USA, currently 13th in the world.
“We have retained the 18-member team from our preparatory tour of England. We have a good balance of players and, keeping in mind our objective of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, I feel it is important to stay in the rhythm with the same players who performed well on the preparatory tour. We now focus on making sure that we leave no stone unturned when we take on USA,” Marijne said.
Both teams play two back-to-games, with the winner on aggregate points booking a ticket for Tokyo.
Men: goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan Pathak; defenders: Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Amit Rohidas, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar; midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad; forwards: Lalit Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjit Singh, S.V. Sunil.
Women: goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu; defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete; midfielders: Sushila Chanu, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Namita Toppo; forwards: Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sharmila Devi, Rani.