Indian football team coach Igor Stimac announced a 26-member squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier against Afghanistan and Oman which are scheduled to be played in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Muscat (Oman) on November 14 and 19, 2019 respectively. Almost all the regular names were included in the squad with the addition of young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem who impressed in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017.
“Dheeraj is a player for the future. We have always trusted our youngsters and they have also shown their prowess on the pitch. Our first choice goalkeepers are Gurpreet and Amrinder and we have seen Kamaljit and Vishal too. Now we would like to see Dheeraj closely as he belongs to those we should rely on in the future,” Stimac explained.
Dheeraj became the third player, after skipper Amarjit Singh and defender Anwar Ali, from the India U-17 world cup squad to get summoned to the senior team camp. Among the notable absentees from the previous camp were Sandesh Jhingan (defender), Nikhil Poojary, Halicharan Narzary (both midfielders) and Balwant Singh (forward).
“It’s not going to be easy with the travelling involved. But, we are professionals and we know how to take care of our bodies. How we travel, what we eat, how much we sleep is going to be very important,” captain Chhetri said.
Pritam Kotal also reiterated, “You can’t complain about these because they’re an integral part of modern-day football. Proper rest, diet and recovery are of utmost importance which need to be taken care of.”
Coach Stimac mentioned it was “not an easy task” to shortlist the players “given the healthy competition” in the team. “I trust them and they know their responsibilities. After watching the league matches since they started, we have shortlisted these players. Some players who are not on the list also performed highly and came very close to getting selected,” Stimac continued. “It’s not going to be an easy task to select only a few players, given the healthy competition we have in each position. This is a good headache for us.”
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Anas Edathodika, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan.
FORWARDS: Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.