As Mumbai lad is picked for Spain tour, his Dronacharya award-winning hockey coach Marzban Patel, believes he should be persisted with, so that he can cement his place in team
India hockey goalkeeper Suraj Karkera (L), Dronacharya award-winning hockey coach Marzban Patel (R)
Dronacharya award-winning hockey coach Marzban ‘Bawa’ Patel believes that India chief coach Craig Fulton’s move to pick three goalkeepers, including Mumbai lad Suraj Karkera, for the upcoming Spain tour is a masterstroke.
Karkera was recently named in India’s 24-man squad for the five-nation tournament in Valencia from December 15-22, where Harmanpreet Singh & Co will compete against Spain, Germany, France and Belgium for top honours.
Veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, 35, and Krishan Pathak, 26, are already part of the squad. “A few of my boys are at the national camp in Bangalore and they have told me that Suraj is doing really well there, and has earned his place in the team for this Spain tour,” Patel, 72, told mid-day.com.
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Karkera, 28, has trained under Patel during his school days at Chidren’s Academy, Malad, and the veteran coach feels Fulton’s strategy to create a good base of goalkeepers ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics is a crucial one. “Indian hockey has always had good goalkeepers, Sreejesh is a legend. Suraj can also emerge as the best, not just in India, but also in the world. But, for this, he needs to be given a long rope, just like how the team management have consistently supported Pathak,” added Patel.
Two years ago, Karkera was named Best Goalkeeper of the 2021 Asian Champions Trophy in Japan. But, somehow he hasn’t been able to make it to the team as a regular. Bawa feels now is the perfect time for him to cement his place in the team. “A goalkeeper’s confidence gets a boost when he is given more opportunities. I’m sure Suraj will continue to work hard and deliver on the highest stage to ensure he is a vital cog for this Indian team in the near future,” Patel signed off.