Sreejesh Replaces Sardar As Captain of India's Hockey Squad for Rio
File image of Sardar Singh and PR Sreejesh (R). (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
New Delhi: India's long-time captain Sardar Singh was on Tuesday replaced by goalkeeper PR Sreejesh as the skipper of the Indian men's hockey squad for Rio Olympics.
Hockey India made the announcement at a star-studded function in New Delhi, making public the 16-member squad which will take part in the quadrennial event in August.
India won the Champions Trophy silver for the first time recently in London under Sreejesh's leadership. Sardar was rested for the tournament.
Also, Sardar recently invited controversy after a fallout with a British girl who has alleged that Sardar attempted to rape her during their relationship. While Sardar continues to deny those claims, the girl, who is also a hockey player, is exploring legal options and had also filed a police complaint a few months ago.
It has also been learnt that Sardar will not be holding the centre-half position anymore, where he had made a name for himself as one of the world's best playmakers.
He was seen playing as a forward during the six-nation tournament in Spain, where India finished fifth, with just one win. Manpreet Singh will play as the central midfielder replacing Sardar in that position.
India have been clubbed with giants Germany and Netherlands in Rio, where the hockey competition for the first time will see quarterfinals after the league stage. Top four teams from each of the two groups progress to the last-eight stage.
The squad announcement function by Hockey India on Tuesday, which also included a few colourful musical performances, was attended by BJP top boss Amit Shah, Sports Minister Vijay Goel and BCCI president Anurag Thakur - apart from FIH president Leandro Negre.
Defender Harmanpreet Singh earned the tag of an Olympian in waiting after he put in consistent performances since making his debut earlier this year.
SV Sunil will be Sreejesh's deputy for the tournament.
"As a goalkeeper my first duty is to save the goals and support the team. Secondly, I don't lead the team from the front, I am the one who motivates or supports the team from behind," Sreejesh, who is often seen shouting instructions from the goal, added.
"For me, it's about the team. If we play well as a team, we can achieve anything in the world," the new skipper said.
Rio squad: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath, SK Uthappa, PR Sreejesh (Captain, GK), Danish Mujtaba, Devinder Walmiki, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmiah.
Standbys: Pardeep Mor, Vikas Dahiya