Bengaluru: Indian men’s hockey team on Tuesday left from Bengaluru airport for Hangzhou to take part in the 19th Asian Games. India will kick off their campaign in the marquee event on September 24 against Uzbekistan.
India are placed in Pool A, alongside Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. Pool B consists of Korea, Malaysia, China, Oman, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The top two teams from each Pool will qualify for the semifinal. Harmanpreet Singh, the charismatic defender, has been tasked with leading the squad once more, with Hardik serving as his deputy.
“The team has been rigorously preparing for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, and we performed well at the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023, so the goal is to maintain that level of performance. We have some tough opponents in our Pool, but we are confident in our preparation and hope to finish on the podium,” said Captain Harmanpreet before leaving for Hangzhou.
The team includes goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak. Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, and Sanjay are the defenders selected for the Asian Games. The midfield will be anchored by Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit, and Shamsher Singh, while the attack will be led by Abhishek, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Before leaving for Hangzhou, vice-captain Hardik expressed optimism, saying: “We have had some tough practice sessions in the lead-up to the Tournament and everyone in camp is focused, working towards the same goal.
“We are in the best possible mental and physical shape to travel to Hangzhou, and we are looking forward to the tough competition in our group. The goal is to continue performing as well as we have in recent months and return from China with a medal,” he concluded.
India will face Uzbekistan on September 24 before taking on Singapore, Japan and Pakistan on September 26, 28 and 30 respectively. They will play their last group stage match against Bangladesh on October 2.