The squad will also focus on qualifying for the AFC U-16 Championship, which is set to take place in 2020.
The All India Football Federation has announced a new batch of players, who will participate in trials for a chance to break into the Indian national U-15 team. The trials will take place in Cuttack from 1st February onwards. A list of 33 players under the age of 15 has been confirmed to participate in the trials, with the most in seven players hailing from Manipur.
While the Northeastern states dominate the fray, with Mizoram also boasting of four players from the group, it’s well spread out among other states as well. Punjab, which has held the excellence of producing top-level talents such as Sandesh Jhingan, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Balwant Singh in the past, also has five players.
With the trials themselves taking place in Odisha, four players from the home state have also been selected for the process. However, surprisingly, only two players have made it from the footballing hotbed of Goa, with Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana and Jharkhand also having their own representatives in the batch.
The most shocking revelation from it is the complete absence of players from West Bengal, known as the epicentre of football in India. Even the reigning Santosh Trophy champions Kerala have no representatives in the batch.
The trial process will be a lengthy one, taking place from the 1st of February and concluding at the end of March. The players who have impressed the most will then be selected to represent their nation in the SAFF U-15 Championship, which should take place at the end of the year. The Colts finished third in the same competition last year, falling to Bangladesh in the semi-finals.
The squad will also focus on qualifying for the AFC U-16 Championship, which is set to take place in 2020 once again. After making big waves in the last edition- where Bibiano Fernandes’ boys made it all the way to the quarterfinals- expectations will be high with an aim to outdo what Vikram Pratap Singh and Co. did in Malaysia.
Fernandes is currently overseeing the India U-16 team which has been sent on an exposure tour to the UAE. They played a tri-series against the hosts and the Saudi Arabia U-16 team, getting a valiant 3-3 draw against the hosts before losing the next two matches.
However, the Colts have defeated Shabab Al-Ahli and Al-Wasl FC 2-1 and 5-1 respectively, while drawing with Emirates SC mostly recently. The youth team gaffer should have a say on who gets selected from the trial process and is expected to be involved with it, when it kicks-off from next month onwards.
Goalkeepers: Bishal Oram (Odisha), Lalruaitluanga (Mizoram), Wahengbam Singh (Manipur).
Defenders: Nitesh Darjee (Arunachal Pradesh), Sadiq Khan (Punjab), Vishnu (Punjab), Sonu (Haryana), Lalremtluanga (Mizoram), Arbnus Tirkey (Jharkhand), Ashu (Jharkhand), Kevin Bawa (Punjab), Harsh Wardhan (Punjab).
Midfielders: Ratanbi Singh (Arunachal Pradesh), Seilenthang Lotjem (Punjab), Ajay Toppo (Odisha), Shiba Prasad (Odisha), Vanlalmalsawma (Mizoram), Suraj Baxla (Jharkhand), Dwayne Neto (Goa), Amosa Lalnundanga (Mizoram), Md Hanif (Manipur), Stephen Gangmei (Manipur), Ishan Sishodia (Delhi).
Forwards: Jhunu Kuldi (Odisha), Zaid Farooqui (Telangana), Rohlupuia (Mizoram), Aryan Salunke (Goa), Renedy Meetei (Manipur), Dhanachandra Singh (Manipur), Fahad Temuri (Delhi), Sarif Khan (Manipur)
Not Specified: Sridarth Nongmeikapam (Manipur), Sayan Debnath.