BENGALURU: For India coach Roelant Oltmans, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, where they finished third, was a meet to experiment. The vision was to implement a new style, strategy and inject young blood into the team, considering the hectic schedule ahead.
With a bigger challenge in the form of World League Semifinals set to be held in London in June, Oltmans announced the 18-member squad here on Friday.
The same team will also travel to Germany to play a three-nation (Germany and Belgium being the others) invitational tournament. Manpreet Singh will captain the side, as first-choice captain PR Sreejesh is sidelined with a knee injury. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be Manpreet’s deputy. In place of Sreejesh, Vikas Dahiya has been included.
While Sultan Azlan Shah result had no bearings on the team as per Oltmans, he wanted to make a few changes as per his plan. “We decided on the squad before we went to Malaysia. A few boys did a good job in Malaysia, and now some other players will get the opportunity to play. There are a couple who miss out but it doesn’t mean they aren’t part of my plans. The idea was to have a strong core and change things around it. During our European tour in August, we will try different combinations,” Oltmans said.
Before travelling to Malaysia, Oltmans had said he would like the team to improve their scoring-rate. The Dutchman was satisfied with his side’s attacking display. “We have changed from being a counter-attacking side to one that keeps possession. I’m worried only when we don’t create opportunities. We did well in possession to create opportunities.”
However, the team needs to improve their penalty-corner conversion. India failed miserably in Malaysia as they could convert only 24 per cent of their penalty corners. Oltmans agreed that work is needed on that aspect. “I agree that our numbers weren’t great.
The conversion rate was low. For me, 33% and above is okay, so it wasn’t good enough. We definitely need to work on it. We’re working with an external specialist who can work with Jugraj Singh to improve conversion rates in the future,” he said. India will begin their HWL Semifinals preparation with a match against Belgium on June 2 in the three-nation meet. After the tournament concludes on June 6, India will begin the main event on June 15 against Scotland in London. Oltmans said though India had already qualified for the HWL as hosts, he would target a top-three finish in the HWL semis to test the team’s progress.
“The Hockey World League Semifinals is a prestigious tournament. We have set a clear target of finishing in the top three. It’s not easy because we play against Olympic champions Argentina, Holland, England, Pakistan and other strong teams. It is up to us to perform to the best of our abilities,” he concluded.
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Vikas Dahiya.
Defenders: Pardeep Mor, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh.
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain), S K Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh (Captain), Harjeet Singh
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh.