Team India In Top Shape
With the tempo for the final matches of the XII FIP World Cup soaring, Team India is preparing for the Zone E Qualifiers, leaving no stone unturned. After the 5-year hiatus of the tournament and newer faces in the team, LA POLO brings the behind-the-scenes action.
The enviable trophy of the FIP World Cup was once named The Jaipur World Cup. Now as eight teams battle it out for their position to grab it, the zonal qualifiers B and C matches have already played out. Returning after the outstanding 2017 games, Team India has a thrilling lineup of players contesting against the Zone E contenders, Pakistan and Africa.
HH Sawai Padmanabh Singh (Pacho) (+4)
Shamsheer Ali (+4)
Siddhant Sharma (+4)
Kuldeep Singh Rathore (+3)
Gaurav Sahgal (+3)
Naveen Singh (+3)
Samir Suhag- Coach and Manager
The impeccable partnership between Shamsheer Ali and Sawai Padmanabh Singh is bound to bring calculated and strategic shots, as seen in their fruitful 19 tournament victories under the same team between 2021-2022. Shamsheer Ali won the maximum tournaments the past year. Lt Col Vishal Chauhan currently stands as the highest handicap Army player and Siddhant Sharma returning after his 2017 debut to the World Cup has progressed too. Naveen Singh, with the 61st Cavalry, provided an impressive portfolio of equestrian skills and Gaurav Sahgal ruled the Mumbai Season through effortless teamwork.
The players have proven their unmatched merit in the international circuit, taking on matches in Argentina, France and the Britain Season during April- June 2022 and are being coached by the remarkable Samir Suhag. LA POLO caught up with Suhag who shared how the preparations are going on. For starters, the team has been involved in both a two-week camp and a single-week camp in South Africa while their daily routine is intense. “In the mornings, we have been maintaining our physical training, exercises, penalty shots and chukker practices and in the evenings we focus on chukkers. If we can’t do the chukker practice everyday, we resort to alternate day practices.” He continues on the amplified methods as the tournament gets closer. “Since September is round the corner, we started recording the sessions for accuracy in movement and measuring the strength for the selection of the Indian Team captain which will be announced soon.”
Slated for September 10 and 11 in Johannesburg, South Africa the team will first compete with the Pakistan Team.
Raja Sami (+4)
Hamza Mawaz (+4)
Ahmed Ali Tiwana (+3)
Temur Nadeem (+3)
Raja Mikayel Sami (+3)
Jalal Arsalan (+3)
Brig(R) Bader Uz Zaman – Manager and Coach
Raja Sami Ullah is known in the Pakistan circuit for his forte with pinpointed chase and apt goals especially alongside or sometimes against notable Argentine players like Julio Novillo Astrada. Hamza Mawaz, with four generations in the sport, has showcased incredible growth at a young age and smooth mallet moves at the Guards Club during the 2021 Archie David Cup Finals. A team of methodical players the Pakistan Team will provide an equally fiery challenge worth the wait.
Suhag commends the skills of the Pakistan team. “From the Indian side, the players are truly splendid, but I think what we are holding at utmost importance is the fitness level of the players. Simply because there was such a long break from the Indian Season and then the off season summer obviously impacts muscle memory so we’re trying to recuperate the fitness level thoroughly.” He smoothly says: “On my end, I’ll say we’re ready for any challenge and to take it head-on. In a few weeks, we would have practiced enough to be good to go for any challenge in the World Cup!”
Victors of the qualifiers will take on Mexico (victor of Zone A), Uruguay (victors of Zone B), Spain and Italy (victor and runner-up from Zone C) and the victor of Zone D matches (between Southeast Asia and Oceania), U.S.A (Host Country) and Argentina (Defending Champion) between October 26 - November 6.
We wish them all the best as they travel for the match to South Africa and hope for the victory of polo once again!