This is the first time in 15 years that the Blue Tigers have set up camp in Kolkata.

With all players among the initial list of 23 players having arrived in Kolkata, the Indian Men’s Senior National Football Team preparatory camp kicks-off in Kolkata for the forthcoming International Friendlies against Nepal.

This marks the return of the Indian National Football Team preparatory camp in Kolkata after 15 years with the Blue Tigers last having camped in Kolkata way back in 2006 prior to the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Saudi Arabia. The sun has been playing hide and seek from behind the dark clouds and weather forecast predicts rain and thundershowers for the next few days in the ‘City of Joy.’

“It’s a nice feeling for all of us to assemble at the National camp. The primary target is to get ready in our quest to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023. There is a roadmap laid down and we are confident of making it to China in 2023,” midfielder Anirudh Thapa stated.

The Indian National Football team preparatory camp will be conducted under a secured bio bubble adhering to the laid down health parameters in wake of the current pandemic situation. All the players and staff have done their RTPCR testing prior to landing in Kolkata, and the entire contingent will also be undergoing regular testing while during the camp.

“The next few days will be intense and all of us need to be ready to rise up to the challenge. With the Qualifiers having ended, the focus has shifted to our qualification to the AFC Asian Cup, and the journey to our qualification has already begun. There cannot be any shortcuts,” defender Rahul Bheke maintained.

Among the list of 23 players of the Indian national team at the camp, Seriton Fernandes, Ashish Rai, Rahul KP and Rahim Ali have been summoned to a Senior National Team camp for the first time ever. Players from Bengaluru FC and ATK Kolkata will join the camp after the completion of their club engagements in the AFC Cup.

Meanwhile, Pronay Halder who didn’t travel to Maldives for ATK Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup commitments, and was supposed to join the camp later have joined his teammates for the practice sessions.

“Home is where heart is,” Pronay echoed. “The Indian National Team camp is where everyone aspires to be. It’s nice to be back at the camp again. The competition in the camp in recent times has increased manifolds, and it’s no different even this time. There is a new talented bunch who are pushing everyone. We are looking forward to the sessions,” he quipped.

The contingent had a stretching session in the gym in the morning and they will be playing an exhibition match with the Bengal Santosh Trophy squad at the VYBK Stadium later in the evening.

Players who have joined the Indian national team camp

GOALKEEPERS: Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Vishal Kaith.

DEFENDERS: Ashish Rai, Seriton Fernandes, Rahul Bheke, Adil Khan, Chinglensana Singh, Narender, Akash Mishra, Mandar Rao Dessai.

MIDFIELDERS: Bipin Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Glan Martins, Jeakson Singh, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Yasir Mohammed, Halicharan Narzary.

FORWARDS: Rahul KP, Farukh Choudhary, Ishan Pandita, Rahim Ali.

The ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC players who will be joining the camp after their AFC Cup duties are as follows:

GOALKEEPERS: Amrinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Ashutosh Mehta, Subhasish Bose.

MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Ashqiue Kuruniyan

FORWARDS: Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri.

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