Bengaluru, June 18: A 16-member men's hockey squad for Tokyo 2020 was announced on Friday, with Hockey India (HI) including as many as 10 Olympic debutants in the squad.
Continuing with their third stint, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and midfielder Manpreet Singh will bring in "critical experience" to the team, alongside other Olympic veterans, such as Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar and Mandeep Singh, said Hockey India in a statement.
After missing the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a knee injury, defender Birendra Lakra is back in the squad for Tokyo 2020. Also joining the team are, Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and debutant forwards, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Chief coach Graham Reid said, "It has not been an easy process to make the final selection of 16 players as there is a lot of quality and ambition in this group of players. The performance levels of all the athletes are at an optimum level and more importantly they work well together.
"They know what it means to represent the country at the Olympics. We are now focused on training with the same intensity and our goal is to put forward our best performance as a collective unit in Tokyo," said Reid from Bengaluru, where the squad is training for the Olympics at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre.
The Indian men's hockey team has won 11 Olympic medals, includes eight gold, one silver and two bronze. However, it has been 41 years since the team last won an Olympic medal.
As a part of the Olympics preparations, the men's team travelled to Europe and Argentina. The Manpreet Singh-led side beat Olympic champions Argentina in both the FIH Pro League matches in Buenos Aires in April this year.
The Indian men's team is grouped in Pool A along with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan.
The tournament takes place from July 23 to August 5 in Tokyo.
List of selected players:
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Singh, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra.
Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit.
Forwards: Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh.