THE 34 PROBABLES FOR the Indian national team squad that will participate in the Asian Cup 2019 has been released.
Head coach Stephen Constantine, for whom the upcoming tournament is a culmination point for this second tenure with the Blue Tigers, has gone for a set squad with few surprises.
Almost all the national camp attendees are camp regulars, with a couple of notable exceptions being Komal Thatal, a key player in India's FIFA U-17 World Cup and a regular starter at ATK, who will participate in his second camp stint and midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, who played well for the Kerala team in the Santosh Trophy and has started 9 times for Kerala Blasters in ISL 2017-18 so far.
Here's the full list of selected players...
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith, Amrinder Singh, Arindam Bhattacharya.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Lalruatthara, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Narayan Das.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Jacki C Singh, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Rowllin Borges, Sahal Abdul Samad, German P Singh, Komal Thatal, Bikash Jairu, Ashique Kuruniyan, Halicharan Narzary, Lallianzuala Chhangte.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, Manvir Singh, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary.
Notable exclusions from the selected bunch are also not a surprise. The likes of Rahul Bheke, Jobby Justin, Brandon Fernandes etc have been producing consistent performances for their respective clubs and a section of the fans have been loudly campaigning for their inclusion in the national team camp for a while now. Another fan favourite but long ignored candidate for selection, Michael Soosairaj, is out with an injury, hence could not make a case for consideration.
But Stephen Constantine has remained unmoved, and continues to focus only on the players who he believes are best suited for the kind of football he wants to put on against heavyweight teams like UAE, Bahrain and Thailand, where Team India are likely to see less of the ball and require significant off-the-ball maneuvres to win back possession and survive the pressure.
The final squad, selected from these camp attendees, will fly to Abu Dhabi next week where they will take on Oman in a preparatory international friendly on 27th December. One or more additional friendlies are expected to take place before India play Thailand on 6th of January in their first Group Stage match in the Asian Cup.