KUALA LUMPUR: Kelvinder Singh was devastated when he was dropped from the Melbourne Commonwealth Games squad last month.
It was a huge blow to his pride, especially after he had been named the Most Promising Player of the tournament during the Junior World Cup meet in Rotterdam last year.
On Monday, the 21-year-old Bangsar lad was back on cloud nine when he was named in the final squad of 18 for the World Cup qualifiers in Changzhou, China, starting next week.
Like Kelvinder, forward P. Prabahkaran was also dropped from the Games squad but has now been included for the World Cup qualifiers.
This will be Kelvinder’s first senior international tournament since being called up for training with the national team last August.
The former Royal Military College (RMC) midfielder said that he was over the moon after earning a place in the national team.
“I was really sad after failing to make the grade for the Melbourne Games despite my good performances in the Junior World Cup. And I was not sure whether I would be able to win a place for the qualifiers,” said Kelvinder.
“It was a big relief to me when my name was announced. Being named for the World Cup qualifiers is the biggest achievement for me since I started playing hockey 10 years ago.
“I am also happy that my childhood dream of representing both the national junior and senior teams has come true.”
Kelvinder was also happy to be the first Punjabi player to have earned a place in the national team in the last four years.
“Defender Maninderjit Singh was the last Punjabi player to feature for the national team in 2002,” said Kelvinder. “Now that I am in the national team, my priority is to give to my best and win a regular place in the squad.”
Twelve teams will take part in the qualifiers, schedule from April 12-23, and only the top five teams will make the cut for the World Cup Finals in Germany in September.
Malaysia have been drawn with Japan, South Korea, China, France and New Zealand in Group B while Group A comprises Pakistan, England, Egypt, Ireland, Belgium and Canada.
“Despite playing in my first senior international tournament, I will not be intimidated. I will give my best, just like I did in Rotterdam last year,” said Kelvinder.