CHENNAI: Looking for a familiar name or two while skimming through the men’s hockey team roster for the upcoming South Asian Games might be a thankless task.
Yes, the experienced Gurbaj Singh is someone who stands out but most of the players in the 18-man squad haven’t even been acquainted with the international stage.
But the side’s coach, BJ Kariappa, whose full time job is technical director of Hockey India’s Associated Academies, says they will be ready come the first match against Bangladesh.
“See, the players that we have selected... none of them are new names. They have all either played for India in the past or have been to various camps. I have seen all of them play and it’s just a question of getting the right combination. But the boys are very motivated and they have to prove themselves here if they are to get further chances. It’s their future that is on the line,” he opined.
But Kariappa, who came to know that he would be leading this side in December, was cautious of the team’s chances. “Since HIL is going on (we are not at full strength). So we should look at it (our chances) from a practical point of view. We have got good players with us and our aim is to win the meet but we don’t have 60-70 players with us — our cream.”
That is one of the main reasons behind him namechecking the controversial selection of Gurbaj Singh. “We have a plan and focus and I can name a few players like Gurbaj who will be key for us. His presence alone will give confidence to the other members of the side.”
While Kariappa will have a few support staff to help during the course of the competition in Guwahati, none of the senior coaches with Hockey India will be with him. But he doesn’t see that as a disadvantage. Time will tell whether he is right.