|Seniors like Tirkey (top) and Gagan Ajit have been given a break
Bangalore: The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) sprang a surprise on Wednesday, naming a new coach and overhauling an earlier probables’ list for the January 8-15 Azlan Shah meet in Malaysia.
The new 25-member list, announced here by IHF president K.P.S. Gill, excluded senior players like captain Dilip Tirkey, strikers Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur besides other regular members of the side.
The new list includes Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Baljit Singh Saini — all of whom were “rested” after the Asia Cup — Len Aiyappa, Ignace Tirkey, Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Michael.
Chief coach Rajinder Singh, under whose stewardship India won four titles this year, will accompany the team to Malaysia as an observer with junior India coach Harendra Singh taking his place.
“The idea is to give exposure to some of the juniors ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in Madrid in March,” Gill said here. He also indicated that juniors would be picked for the three-match ‘Test’ series against the Dutch in February.
The probables have been told to assemble for a camp in Hyderabad on December 15. The squad will leave for Malaysia on January 4.
Reacting to the IHF decision, Rajinder said the decision to relieve him from the post of chief coach was only “temporary” and he was consulted before the changes were affected.
“I was told about the changes a couple of days back. It is just a temporary arrangement,” Rajinder said.
He said injuries to several players during recent domestic tourmaments was also one of the reasons for the move.
“Deepak (Thakur), Gagan Ajit, Viren (Rasquinha) are either ill or indisposed after a hectic outing in the Nehru Cup and Shastri tournament. So we don’t want to take any chance by fielding such players ahead of the Olympic qualifiers,” Rajinder said.
NEW PROBABLES LIST
Goalkeepers: Kamaldeep Singh, Adrian D’Souza, Kutappa. Full-backs: William Xalxo, Harpal Singh, Len Aiyappa, Sandeep Singh. Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, V.S. Vinaya, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Kumar, Ignace Tirkey, Bipin Fernandez, Baljit Saini, Prabhdeep Singh. Forwards: Hari Prasad, Tushar Khandekar, Adam Sinclair, Baljit Dhillon, Rajpal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Sandeep Michael, Dhanraj Pillay, Girish Pimpale. Chief coach: Harendra Singh. Assistant coaches: Clarence Lobo, Ramandeep Singh. Goalkeeper coach: A.B. Subbaiah.