After a positive end to 2017 with a bronze medal at the Odisha Men's Hockey World League, the Indian men's hockey team will report for a 10-day national camp to begin on Thursday at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru. The year 2018 is said to be a busy year for the team, featuring the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Champions Trophy in July, the Jakarta Asian Games in August, Asian Champions Trophy in October and the much-awaited Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup, starting in Bhubaneswar in November.
Hockey India has announced 33 names for this year's first national camp which is a mix of young and experienced players along with new faces inducted into the senior fold.
Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak, part of the winning team of 2016 Junior Men's World Cup, finds himself in the group along with fellow youngsters Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera. They will be joined by senior compatriot PR Sreejesh who is vying to find top form after nearly eight months of injury break.
Nilam Sanjeep Xess, the young defender from Odisha, who led the Indian team to U-18 Asia Cup win in 2016, has been elevated to the Senior Core Group. He will train alongside stalwart Sardara Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar and Gurinder Singh in the back line.
The line-up of midfielders remains unchanged with Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh in the group.
Young forward Sumit Kumar, who featured in the Indian Junior Men's Team in 2016, has been included for the camp with seniors SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh.
India will begin the season with the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in New Zealand which will see Belgium, Japan and the hosts in fray and the ten-day national camp will lay foundation to a testing season ahead.
"The camp will be short and we need to deal with the players who just played domestic matches which means we need to be careful in training considering we play eight matches in New Zealand," said Marijne.
"Like always, the evaluation of the previous tournament needs to come from the players so that's the first thing we do when we meet for this camp. I would like to understand what their experience was of the tournament and what they think needs to improve. For me, Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 gave an insight into what is necessary to improve when we play higher ranked teams and I certainly believe we can do better in our 1 vs 1 defending. In the next tour this will be one of the key areas we would like to improve," added the 43-year-old Dutchman.
Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera, P.R. Sreejesh, Krishan B Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Sardara Singh
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh, Satbir Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh, Harjeet Singh
Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf, Talwinder Singh, Sumit Kumar.