COVID-19 forces Sunil Chhetri out of India's 27-man squad for Oman & UAE friendlies

NATIONAL TEAM CAPTAIN Sunil Chhetri will miss India's upcoming friendlies against Oman and UAE due to testing positive with COVID-19.

Days after returning to Bengaluru following Bengaluru FC's ISL 2020-21 campaign in Goa, Sunil announced on social media that he had tested positive for the virus and was in recovery.

Other players who are missing out include Rahul Bheke, Asish Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad and Brandon Fernandes. They were also named in the initial squad announced by coach Igor Stimac, but have been left out of the 27 player contingent that's flying to Dubai due to injuries.

The Blue Tigers' squad that will face Oman on 25th March followed by UAE on 29th March are as follows:

GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Dheeraj Singh.

DEFENDERS: Ashutosh Mehta, Akash Mishra, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Adil Khan, Mandar Rao Dessai, Mashoor Shereef.

MIDFIELDERS: Rowllin Borges, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Raynier Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Bipin Singh, Yasir Mohammad, Suresh Singh, Halicharan Narzary, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan.

FORWARDS: Manvir Singh, Ishan Pandita, Hitesh Sharma, Liston Colaco.

The friendlies will mark India's return to action for the first time since November 2019. They had their scheduled matches - including World Cup Qualifiers and SAFF Championship - postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two friendly matches are expected to serve as precursors to the last three remaining World Cup Qualifier fixtures - against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - that are scheduled to take place in June.

India last played Oman on 27th December 2018 in Abu Dhabi, as a preparatory friendly for their Asian Cup 2019 campaign. The match ended 0-0. India also faced UAE in the group stage of Asian Cup, losing to the host nation 2-0 despite putting up a promising performance in the first half.

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