After an impressive performance by India in the men's hockey Champions Trophy, they will now be keen to showcase their skills in the six-nation invitational hockey tournament to be held in Valencia from June 27. India have announced their squad for the competition, and Sardar Singh, who had been rested for the Champions Trophy, will lead the side in Spain.
Rupinder Pal Singh will also feature in the competition after being provided rest, like Sardar Singh. There are not much changes from the team that featured in the Champions Trophy, with SV Sunil leading the team in the offensive end.
India will use such major competitions like this as build-up for the Rio Olympics, which is scheduled to start from August 5. The competition is going to be a tough one for India, as it comprises quality teams Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland and Spain. Performing well in the six-nation Invitational hockey tournament will do wonders to their confidence.
"After winning our first medal at the prestigious Champions Trophy tournament over the weekend, and the first medal since the Bronze in 1982 as well as the best finish in any major Champions Trophy tournament so far, we are confident to deliver our best at the 6 Nations Tournament as well. All these matches are stepping stones towards the ultimate goal â€“ Rio Olympics 2016," Hockey India official website quoted Sardar as saying.
Under coach Roelant Oltmans, India have looked a solid defensive unit. The Dutchman is expected to make some tactical changes, and also experiment with various strategies in Spain.
The six-nations tournament will help India in their Rio Olympics preparations, as Germany, New Zealand and Spain are involved in the same group for the quadrennial event as well.
"The key to the tournament will be to use it almost as a host of friendlies, before the Games. We will try to maximise on our squad rotations, tactical experiments and analyse our opponents there. Most teams, will come with what resembles their full strength squad and so it will give us a good indication of our strengths and weaknesses, prior to Rio," Oltmans said.
India Squad: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (VC) Vikas Dahiya;
Defenders: Rupinderpal Singh, VR Raghunath, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra;
Midfielders: Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh (C), SK Uthappa, Devindar, Sunil Walmiki, Harjeet Singh
Forwards: Talwinder Singh, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah.