The USA and Canada junior men’s team got the invite from International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Friday, after Australia and New Zealand decided to remain absent from the November 24 to December 5 tournament to be held in Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
The two Oceania nations have pulled out because of Covid-related travel restrictions.
As a result, USA got FIH’s invitation as first reserves, having finished as the bronze medallists at the Junior Pan American Championship held recently. Canada took the other vacant spot as the best team in FIH World Rankings (seniors) not yet qualified for the Junior World Cup.
Image credit: USA Field Hockey’s Twitter handle
The US juniors are coached by Pat Harris, who is Harendra’s deputy in their senior men’s team. Both are certain to travel with the team to Bhubaneswar.
“I told the boys right after they beat Canada to win bronze at the PanAm Championship, that you will be going for the Junior World Cup as well,” said Harendra, talking to TimesofIndia.com briefly from his current base in America.
Image credit: Harendra Singh’s Facebook page
When asked – ‘Will you travel with the junior team?’, Harendra replied – “Yes, definitely”, before excusing himself to hang up for some work.
It’s only the second time in the history of the Junior Pan American Championship that the US men’s team finished on the podium, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for them. They defeated rivals Canada in a penalty shootout.
Not just for Harendra, the tournament will also be a homecoming for several Indian origin players in USA colours, such as Jatin Sharma, Amar Khokhar, Shomik Chakraborty and Jagpreet Singh, if they find a place in the squad selected to travel to Odisha.