The Jamshedpur Sporting Association team at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Defending champions Jamshedpur Sporting Association will like to do an encore when they meet their rivals at the senior state football championship at Hazaribagh from January 9 to 13.
Having sweated it out in the popular Jamshedpur Sporting Association league last year, city footballers are eager to continue with their grip over the championship, performance at which is a crucial yardstick for selection to the state outfit at national tournaments.
The 20-member squad for the Hazaribagh meet announced by association secretary Rajeev Mishra on Wednesday is a balanced mix of experience and youth, capable of withstanding grind of a senior meet at an away venue. Jagtu Hembrom has been named skipper of the side. The outfit will leave for Hazaribagh on Thursday morning.
The squad comprises eight players from Tata Motors and five from Tata Steel. There are three players from Aruna Samiti, two from Sidho Kanu Memorial Club and one each from Tata Motors (Community Services) and Jharkhand Sporting.
The squad comprises Jagtu Hembrom, Prabhat Kisku, Ghanshyam Murmu, Babulal Hansda, Yugal Kishore Purty, Babulal Hansda (Sr), Subhash Chand Deogam and Rupa Purty from Tata Motors, while Sanatan Sardar, Moso Hembram, Md. Azad Ali, Bosen Murmu and Ramesh Kujur from Tata Steel. Suraj Kumar, Mangal Soy and Girdhari Samad represent Aruna Samiti, whereas Parmeshwar Tudu and Kanwar Majhi hail from Sidho Kanu Memorial Club. Kunjari Tudu and Durga Hansda play for Tata Motors (Community Services) and Jharkhand Sporting, respectively.
The selected footballers play for separate clubs and institutions in the local Jamshedpur Sporting Association league, which is one of the oldest sporting fixtures in eastern zone.
Md. Shafique and Ravinder Murmu will accompany the squad as coach and manager, respectively, on the Hazaribagh tour.
Jharkhand Sports Welfare Foundation will organise runs at all district headquarters and football tournaments across the state under the programme Yuva Sankalp Pakhwara from January 12, the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand. The theme of the entire campaign is Hip Hip Hurray. Footballer Bhaichung Bhutia has agreed to lead the Run for Jharkhand in Ramgarh on January 13 and in Jamshedpur on January 19.
Skipper Hembrom expressed confidence in his team and said the boys were raring to go for the title. “The team is good and is in fine fettle. We are optimistic of retaining the title,” the fast-footed mid-fielder added.
“We have picked a strong squad and are confident of defending the title. The selected players are experienced enough to outplay their opponents in the Hazaribagh matches,” said Ramesh Mehta, chairman of the association’s football committee.