2021 Asian Champions Trophy perfect stage for fringe players to prove themselves, says Manpreet Singh

The India men's hockey team will return to action for the first time since clinching bronze medal at Tokyo 2020.

By Samrat Chakraborty

After ending their Olympic medal drought with a bronze for the first time in 41 years at Tokyo 2020, defending champions India will return to action at the 2021 Asian Champions Trophy, scheduled to run from December 14 to 22 in Bangladesh.

The 20-member India squad contains plenty of fringe players, including the likes of goalkeepers Krishan B Pathak and Suraj Karkera, who will have their task cut out in absence of Tokyo 2020 hero and veteran PR Sreejesh.

However, their captain Manpreet Singh, believes that the continental event will be a perfect platform for the fringe players to prove their potentials after a long-time.

“With nearly 10 players who were part of the Tokyo Olympic squad being rested, this is a fantastic opportunity for the players who had been waiting on the sidelines to get a chance to perform in a major international tournament,” Manpreet said in a media release.

“This will be a good platform for them to showcase their talent and temperament.”

India captain Manpreet Singh takes a shot during a match

Defending champions India would begin their campaign on the opening day against South Korea before locking horns with hosts Bangladesh (December 15), arch-rivals Pakistan (December 17), Malaysia (December 18) and Japan (December 19) in the single-pooled six-team tournament.

The Indian captain believes that the continental event will also be a good platform to access the abilities of other teams ahead of the all-important Asian Games and Asia Cup in 2022.

“This is our first outing after the Tokyo Olympics so naturally there is a lot of excitement among the players. We have had a good training camp in Bhubaneswar and I feel since the weather here is quite similar to that of Dhaka, we won't take long to acclimatise,” the skipper said.

“It will be a good tournament not just in terms of competition but also to understand about other team's capabilities. We assess the progress of other Asian countries ahead of the all-important Asian Games and Asia Cup next year,” the ace mid-fielder added.

India have a good record at the Asian Champions Trophy with three titles (2011, 2016, 2018) to their name -- the most in history of the tournament -- to its name since its inception in 2011.

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