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Prabodh Tirkey to lead Indian hockey team

Last updated on: April 21, 2007 22:30 IST

Midfielder Prabodh Tirkey will lead India in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament, at Ipoh, Malaysia, from May 5 to 15.

The Indian Hockey Federation, in a statement on Saturday evening, said Vikramkanth would replace Ignace Tirkey if the latter is found wanting on fitness.

Goalkeeper Sreejesh, defender Sunil Yadav and forwards Somanna and Bruno Logun were named as standbys.

Goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza was not considered for selection as he did not attend the camp. He is appearing for his final year Bachelor of Arts examination.

The 18-member team was picked in Bangalore by selectors Gurbax Singh and Harmik Singh, Ajitpal Singh (government nominee), M M Sommaya (technical director) Joaquim Carvalho (chief coach), coaches M Ramesh Parameswaran and M P Singh and camp coordinator R K Shetty.

IHF secretary K Jyothikumaran said Dilip Tirkey and Gagan Ajit Singh, who were to join the Bangalore camp, could not attend it because of engagements in the Netherlands' professional league. They would be considered for selection for future tournaments, he added.

Meanwhile, Carvalho had earlier on Saturday morning said Logun pulled his muscle and it would take some time for the dependable and nippy forward to recover fully.

Explaining the composition of the new-look team under Carvalho, Jyothikumaran said, "Our team's main concentration will be to finish on top in the Champions Challenge tournament in June in Belgium, as that ranking will help us to be in a better pool in the Olympic Qualifier.

"If we keep up our present ranking amongst the teams that figure in the Olympic qualifier, India's road to 2008 Beijing Olympics will be much easier."

As for the Azlan Shah tournament, the IHF secretary said, "We always treat the Azlan Shah tournament as a good hunting ground for practice and tournament play where we could also assess our players against few formidable teams."

India finished third at the previous edition of the Azlan Shah. This being the first tournament following a short
camp, chief coach Carvalho, who replaced V Baskaran last month following the dismal showing at the Asian Games, where India finished a poor fifth, felt the team should do well with qualification for next year's Olympics its main goal.

"Our main aim is 2008 Olympics. That's the first test for these boys. The team has lot of youngsters and some of them
are playing at the highest level for the first time," said Carvalho.

R K Shetty, president of the Karnataka Hockey Association, is the manager of the team.

The team:

Goalkeepers: Bharath Chetri and Baljit Singh.

Deep defenders: William Xalco, Raghunath V R and Harpal Singh.

Midfielders: Ignace Tirkey (subject to fitness) or Vikramkanth, Gurbaz Singh, Bimal Lakra, Prabodh Tirkey (captain), Sardara Singh and Didar Singh.

Forwards: Sarwanjit Singh, Shivender Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Rajpal Singh, Bharath Chikkara, Roshan Minz and Tushar Khandekar.

Standbys: Sreejesh (goalkeeper), Sunil Yadav (defender), Somanna and Bruno Logun (forwards).

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