Seasoned Sreejesh in 16-man hockey squad for Tokyo

Part of the Tokyo bound men's hockey squad, PR Sreejesh (centre) is among the most expereinced goalkeepers in world hockey. Photo:

Seasoned international goalkeeper and former India captain PR Sreejesh has found a place in the 16-member men’s hockey squad announced on Friday by Hockey India (HI) for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“The performance level of all the athletes is at an optimum level and more importantly they have been working well together. They know what it means to represent the country at the Olympics. We are now focussed on training with the same intensity and our goal is to put forward our best performance as a collective unit in Tokyo,” said chief coach Graham Reid.

The team has a fair blend of experience and youth as many as 10 players will make their Olympic debut.

Midfielder Manpreet Singh and defender Rupinder Pal Singh are the other key players in the team.

After missing the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a major knee injury, Odisha’s Birendra Lakra has got an opportunity to be a part of the Olympic squad.

The national team has been training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in Bengaluru and will continue to train here before leaving for Japan.

It has been four decades since the men’s hockey team won an Olympic medal.

At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the men had crashed out in the quarterfinals.

As a part of Olympic preparations, the men’s team travelled to Europe and Argentina, and put put up a good show against Germany, Great Britain and reigning Olympic champions Argentina.

The Indian men are grouped in Pool A along with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan.

Squad: PR Sreejesh (goalkeeper), Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinderpal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra (all defenders), Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit (all midfielders), Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh (all forwards)