The Blue Tigers are set to play their first match in 16 months as the All India Football Federation announced a set of friendlies to be played against Oman and UAE in March. The set of 35 probables for the national team camp has been announced revealing a crop of fresh faces who will have their first taste of national team experience.
India had played their last match in November 2019 against Oman in a World Cup qualifier match and will play the same opponent on March 25 in a friendly in Dubai. It will be followed by a match against UAE on March 29.
Igor Stimac has stuck on his word about his admiration of the young players in the ongoing edition of the Indian Super League, with the 35 probables being selected on the basis of their current form. In that context, seeing some of the fresh faces isn’t a surprise. He had acknowledged the amount of exposure that the youngsters in Hyderabad FC got and how crucial they were to the club’s performance. Six of them have found their place in the camp.
Veteran Subhashish Roy Chowdury makes his way into the probables along with regular members Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, and Vishal Kaith. Youngster Dheeraj also gets the nod.
A few years ago, the national camp would have featured only one right back, with Pritam Kotal almost certainly getting his place in the starting lineups. Now, we find an array of players in the position intensifying the competition for places. This will also be the first time that Sandesh Jhinghan will be playing for the Blue Tigers after suffering an ACL injury late in 2019.
19-year-old Akash Mishra, the talk of the fans has been included in the squad while his teammate Ashish Rai misses out due to an injury. It isn’t a surprise to see Apuia in the squad after a stellar season for Northeast United. Other players who had good outings in the ISL also find themselves in the squad like Hitesh Sharma, Liston Colaco, Bipin Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rahul KP, and Yasir Mohammad. Five of the 35 probables have been a part of the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup India squad and are yet to earn a senior cap.
Fan-favorite Ishan Pandita, who holds an Indian passport, makes his way into the national camp. The three top-scoring Indian forwards in the current season: Pandita, Manvir Singh, and skipper Sunil Chhetri complete the 35 man probables. With more than 16 months devoid of international action, India finally steps into the pitch with a modified squad. The timing of the friendlies seems to favor them as the players come fresh and fit from the ISL season.
India will face Oman on March 25 and UAE on March 29, both matches being played in Dubai. The camp is set to start on March 15 with the final 28 being announced after the ISL final.
The probables :
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh,Vishal Kaith, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.
DEFENDERS: Seriton Fernandes, Ashutosh Mehta, Prabir Das, Mashoor Shereef, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Sarthak Golui, Adil Khan, Mandar Rao Dessai, Akash Mishra.
MIDFIELDERS: Rowllin Borges, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Raynier Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Bipin Singh, Yasir Mohammad, Liston Colaco, Halicharan Narzary, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Rahul KP, Udanta Singh, Hitesh Sharma, Farukh Choudhary.
FORWARDS: Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Ishan Pandita.