Last chance to cement my place in team: Chikte

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 May 2017 09:31:33


By Paritosh Pramanik,

NAGPUR,

WITH the World League Final just a few months away, goalkeeper Akash Chikte wants to cement his place in the Indian team by performing well in the forthcoming 3 Nations Invitational Tournament as well as in Men’s Hockey World League Semi Final.


Hockey India announced Indian men’s team for the 3 Nations Invitational Tournament to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany from June 1 and Men’s Hockey World League Semi Final starting June 15 at London.


The Manpreet Singh-led 18-member team will play two matches each against hosts Germany and Belgium. India are grouped with Canada, Netherlands, Pakistan and Scotland in Pool B in the World League Semi-Finals.
With No 1 goalkeeper PR Sreejesh out of the squad with knee injury, the Indian goalpost will be manned by Akash Chikte and Vikash Dahiya.


Akash, in all probability, will be the first choice goalkeeper in both the tournaments.
“This will be make or break tour for me. If I perform well during this Europe tour, I will gain a lot of confidence and cement my place in the side for the World League Finals,” 24-year-old Chikte said while talking to ‘The Hitavada’ from Bengaluru where the team is undergoing conditioning camp.


The World League Final will be held in Bhubaneswar from December 1-10.
Chikte, who played the Sultan Azlan Shah meet, said the tournament was a turning point of his career. The Yavatmal-born goalkeeper had made his debut at Malaysia in 2015 where India won the bronze medal. Though he could not better his performance this time, again winning the bronze, Chikte said he has learnt a lot from the Azlan Shah meet.


“Azlan Shah meet has been the turning point in my career. I have learned a lot through this tournament and it will remain very close to my heart. But I want to win gold in such tournaments and am working hard in improving myself,” said the former Vidarbha goalkeeper.


The lanky lad from BEG, Pune said the Indian team is working hard to iron out its flaws. “The coach and support staff are working hard on us and so are all the players. We have to increase our conversion rate (field goals as well as PC conversions). The drag flickers are trying out several variations and we goalkeepers are also working hard on saving penalty corners,” informed Chikte.


“We are also watching videos of other teams and planning accordingly,” he added.
In the World League Semi-Finals India are grouped with Pakistan, Netherlands and Poland in Group B and the Indian custodian said they are preparing well to face these teams.
“Yes, it will be tough (against these top teams) but we are working hard in training sessions. We are concentrating on scoring quick goals and improving our ball possession,” he concluded.


The Squad
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Vikas Dahiya. Defenders Pardeep Mor, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh. Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice Captain), S K Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh (Captain), Harjeet Singh. Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh.