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Indian hockey team for Olympics announced, Chetri to lead, Walmiki out

Hockey India today named the 16-member squad for next month's London Olympics. Goalkeeper Bharat Chetri will lead the team.

Only two changes were made from the squad that finished third in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia with striker Yuvraj Walmiki and Rupinderpal Singh being left out, and preferring veteran Ignace Tirkey and Gurwinder Singh Chandi in their place.

Walmiki and Rupinderpal's axing was on expected lines as the duo had been struggling of late. Walmiki has also not fully recovered from the injury he sustained during the Olympic qualifying event in February though he played in Malaysia.

Chetri
Bharat Chetri will skipper the Indian hockey squad in the Olympics. File Pic

Veteran Tirkey will marshall the three-man Indian defence along with drag-flick duo of Sandeep Singh and V R Raghunath. Talismanic Sardar will lead the mid-field, India's strongest area, in company of Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurbaj Singh. Striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi made a return to the squad after recovering from his hamstring injury sustained during the Olympic test event in London last month. Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker, S V Sunil, Dharamvir Singh and S K Uthappa complete the forward line-up.

The 16-member squad and two stand-bys were announced by Hockey India (HI) after trials at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune conducted June 6-7.

The trials were watched by HI selectors B.P. Govinda and Balbir Singh, alongwith chief coach Michael Nobbs, assictant coach Mohammed Riaz, exercise physiologist David John and government observer Harbinder Singh.

Sarvanjit Singh and Kothajit Singh are the two stand-bys while Sardar Singh has been named the vice-captain.

Eight-time champions India have been clubbed with Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand and Belgium in Group B. Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Pakistan, Argentina and South Africa are in Group A.

India start their campaign against the Netherlands July 30 at the Riverbank Arena. They next face New Zealand August 1, Olympic champions Germany August 3, South Korea August 4 and Belgium August 7.

All the matches will be played on blue artificial turf with yellow kookaburra balls. The pitch has pink runways.

The Indian team will reach London July 19 after its Europe tour of France and Spain.

India, who missed the 2008 Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years, qualified for the 2012 London Games beating France 8-1 in the final match of the qualifier here earlier this year.

India's squad (international matches in brackets):

Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri (capt, 130), P. Sreejesh (51)

Defenders: V. R. Raghunath (110), Ignace Tirkey (246), Sandeep Singh (168)

Midfielders: Sardar Singh (vice-capt, 136), Gurbaj Singh (148), Birendra Lakra (26), Manpreet Singh (35)

Forwards: S.V Sunil (93), Gurwinder Singh Chandi (75), Shivendra Singh (148), Danish Mujtaba (78), Tushar Khandekar (219), Dharamvir Singh (19), S. K. Uthappa (21)

Standbys: Sarvanjit Singh (123), Kothajit Singh (18)

Chief coach: Michael Nobbs (AUS) 

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