The Blue Tigers will begin their campaign on 6th January against Thailand.
Indian national football team head coach Stephen Constantine, on Wednesday, named a 34-member probable squad for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019, which will be held in UAE from January. All the players will be reporting to the Camp in Delhi from December 16 onwards, with a squad of 28 members flying to Abu Dhabi for the final phase of preparation on December 20.
21-year-old Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad and ATK’s 18-year-old winger Komal Thatal are the notable call ups in the initial list. Both youngsters have been impressive for their respective teams in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 so far and have been rewarded for their consistent performances. The likes of Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu were among the usual suspects in the squad.
The last date for registration of the list of 23 players for the Continental Championship is slated for December 26.
As part of their preparation, the Blue Tigers are slated to play an International Friendly against Oman in Abu Dhabi on December 27, 2018.
The Blue Tigers are in Group A and will begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign on January 6 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi against Thailand, before playing UAE four days later. Their last group stage encounter against Bahrain is scheduled for January 14.
“It is a major Championship and I am sure all the lads are wanting to be there in the final list,” Constantine stated.
Referring to him naming 18 U-23 players in the list of probables, the Coach added: “The experience of playing in the Asian Cup will help the youngsters mature into better players. All of them have earned the right to be in the camp. I wish them luck.”
With six central midfielders having been named for the camp, Constantine felt “it’s about the players who are ready, fit and can do the best job for us.”
“We’ll need four players going into such a major tournament. We have an International Friendly in Abu Dhabi before the Asian Cup kicks-off. When you prepare for such an intense competition, there’s always the risk of someone getting injured,” he maintained.
This will be India’s fourth appearance in the AFC Asian Cup, the last being in Doha in 2011. India had finished runners-up to Israel in 1964, with their second qualification happening in 1984.
INDIA 34-MAN PROBABLE SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Arindam Bhattacharja, Vishal Kaith
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das, Nishu Kumar, Lalruatthara, Jerry Lalrinzuala
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojari, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan, Germanpreet Singh, Bikash Jairu, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sahal Abdul Samad, Komal Thatal, Jackichand Singh
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary, Balwant Singh, Manvir Singh