Unlike Olympics Games, Indian hockey team’s record in World Cup is something to forget about with just three medals in 14 editions of the tournament played. 2014 Hockey World Cup was also a tournament to forget for the Indian team as the team finished in lowly 9th place among 12 teams that participated in the competition.
Just like the 2018 World Cup, Indian team which participated in 2014 World Cup also banked on young players with the average age of players as 23.5 years.
But despite having such a young team, very few of those players find themselves in the squad of 2018 World Cup. What happened to the rest of them, where are they now?
Let’s look at where are they now:
He was the captain of the team in the 2014 World Cup and continued to lead the team’s midfield for the next three years. After Sjored Marijne became the coaching staff, he was sacked from the team due to poor performance. He did make a comeback when Harendra Singh took over the coaching but once again was sacrificed for younger players by David John. Sardar Singh announced his retirement last months ago and now has his focus on Golf.
Rupinder Pal Singh
Vice-captain of the side which played in 2014 World Cup, Rupinder continued to be part of the team for the next three years before a hamstring injury kept him out for nearly six months. Before getting injured, his was team’s go-to guy for penalty corners and strokes. His performance in Asian Games was questioned by selectors, and now he finds himself dropped from the side for World Cup.
Despite India’s poor performance in World Cup, Sreejesh’s stock continued to rise and was named India’s captain in 2016 Rio Olympics. ACL tear in 2017 forced him out of the pitch for eight months but was back between the bar once he returned from injury. Retained as the main goalkeeper for 2018 World Cup, Sreejesh was expected to captain the side for the World Cup, but poor performance from Asian Games saw him losing his captaincy to Manpreet Singh.
Known for his quick thinking and speed, SV Sunil continued to be part of team India set up till Asian Games before a freak knee injury on the newly laid turf at Odisha ruled him out of the World Cup. Was expected to be fit before the World Cup but as the team management did not want to take any chances for the World Cup, he finds himself out of the squad. Looking at High-Performance Director David John’s attitude towards aged and injured players, SV Sunil is not expected to play for India again.
One of the most talented players of the 2014 World Cup team, Gurbaj Singh was banned for nine months by Hockey India due to disciplinary issues. Gurbaj Singh contested the ban in Punjab and Haryana High court which forced Hockey India to lift the ban, but he has not played for India since then. Currently, he works with Punjab Police and captains their hockey side.
Between 2014 and 2018 World Cup, Manpreet Singh easily was India’s best player. Earlier playing as Sardar Singh’s deputy, Manpreet Singh has taken over former captain’s free man role and has excelled in it. Today there is no part of the pitch where you don’t find Manpreet contributing. A fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Manpreet Singh uses Ronaldo’s signature style after scoring the goal. He will enter the World Cup with a massive responsibility as he was named as captain of Indian team.
Ever reliable Kothajit Singh continues to be part of Indian team set up but has now moved from midfield to defense due to team’s requirement. Playing his second World Cup at 26 Kothajit will be expected to bridge the gap between midfield and defense.
Another player which India lost due to injury, Dharamvir was the perfect replacement for Gurbaj Singh. He got injured just before the 2016 Champions Trophy, and the extent of the damage forced him to miss the 2016 Rio Olympics as well. Finds himself out of the team despite recovering fully. He currently plays for his employers Punjab Police. Despite not playing for India in a couple of years, Dharamvir was recommended for Arjuna Award by Hockey India, but unfortunately, he missed out.
Top goal scorer for India in 2014 World Cup with five goals, Akashdeep Singh, remains to be an integral part of Indian team. Due to the absence of Ramandeep and SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh will have to play a significant role in leading India’s attack in the upcoming World Cup.
Just like Akashdeep, Mandeep too has a huge role to play in the World Cup since only he and Akashdeep have enough experience among Indian forward line. Mandeep was also a part of Indian junior team which won the World Cup under Harendra Singh. Indian fans will once again hope Mandeep works his magic and helps India in winning the World Cup.
Known for his work ethic, Chinglensana plays a crucial rule in bridging the gap between defense and attacking line. Over the last four years, Chinglensana has scored some crucial goals for the country. He is currently the vice-captain of the Indian team.
Attacking midfielder, SK Uthappa continued to be part of Indian team post the 2014 World Cup and won silver with the Indian team in the 2016 Champions Trophy but missed out on the team for Rio Olympics. Made a comeback later that year for Asian Champions Trophy where he captained the side in the game against Pakistan but then was again left out of current team set up. He currently plays for his employers IOCL.
Injury to Sreejesh gave Harjot Singh a chance to make the goalkeeping spot permanent but poor performance under the bar saw him axed from the squad. Bad luck became worse when his HIL franchisee Delhi WaveRiders also sacked him when he was unable to provide NOC from his employers on time. He now plays for Punjab police.
After making his senior team debut in 2014 World Cup, Jasjit Kular secured his place in the side due to dependable defensive hockey. He was also a sure shot selection for the Rio Olympics, but an injury forced him out of the squad. He has not played for India since then and currently plays for his employers Punjab Police
Unlucky with injuries, Birendra Lakra has seen himself in and out of the squad. Indeed, India’s best defender, Birendra Lakra is back in the team for the World Cup after injury and is raring to go against the home crowd.
India’s primary penalty corner expert in the World Cup, Raghunath decided to take a break from international hockey after the World Cup. He has not played for India since then; he is currently playing for his employers IOCL.
After an uneventful World Cup, Yuvraj Walmiki was dropped from Indian team due to poor performances and politics. He went on to participate in Khatron Ke Khiladi and has walked the ramps for some designers. Yuvraj has not played for India in a long time and currently plays for German club Grossflottbeker.