The Blue Tigers’ preparatory camp returns to the City of Joy after a long time.

The Indian football team will assemble in Kolkata on the 15th of August and will start training post-Independence Day. The preparatory camp will be executed in a bio-secure bubble, maintaining the latest Standard Operating Procedures.

Igor Stimac, the team’s head coach, is well-known for calling up fresh faces to the preparatory camp. He has maintained the same track record once again, ahead of the international friendlies which will take place in September. Today, Khel Now takes a look at five new names called up by the Croatian tactician for the forthcoming camp.

5. Vishal Kaith

Kaith was formerly a regular in the national team setup under Stephen Constantine

25-year-old shot-stopper Vishal Kaith is looking to make a comeback into the Indian football team. The Shimla-born goalkeeper was formerly a regular in the national team setup under Stephen Constantine. Kaith has been the first-choice goalkeeper for Chennaiyin FC over the last two seasons and has made the position his own at the Marina Machans.

He is a complete goalkeeper who is known for his quick reflexes and ball-playing capabilities. Kaith is not afraid to come off his line in one-on-one situations and challenge for the ball with his feet. He often plays the role of a sweeper keeper and is reliable for high defensive lines.

4. Halicharan Narzary

The Assamese winger is also preparing to script a comeback into the national team. In the 2020-21 season, Narzary turned up to play each of the 20 games for Hyderabad FC and scored four goals. He levelled up his game up when compared to the previous season at Kerala Blasters and excelled in every area of the trade.

Narzary is a natural left winger, but can also play as a right winger if needed. He can cut onto his left foot and run in on defenders with his pace and highly rated dribbling skills. The 26-year-old has turned up 27 times to represent India and is well aware of how things work on the international stage.

3. Asish Rai

He was the Nizams’ first-choice right-back during ISL 2020-21

Rai is a modern full-back who showed the Indian football fraternity what he brings to the table in the season gone by. Asish rose to fame during ISL 2020-21, courtesy of his effectiveness in the right-back position for Hyderabad FC. Had it not been for a mid-season injury, a maiden Indian football team call-up would have knocked on his door post the season.

Hyderabad FC’s head coach Manolo Marquez has had a big role to play in Asish’s breakthrough season. He was the Nizams’ first-choice right-back and his contributions at either end of the pitch spoke for themselves. In 18 outings, he recorded two assists, 47 crosses and averaged 42.83 passes per game.

2. Rahul KP

Next up is Rahul KP. The FIFA U-17 World Cup partticipant comes into the national team camp on the back of a highly rated individual season. In the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), Rahul found the back of the net thrice in 17 outings for Kerala Blasters.

The Thrissur-born prodigy is a right-footed wing forward who can play on either wing. Known for his pace, never-say-die attitude and vigorous work-rate, the 21-year-old has already created a reputation for himself. Rahul is a multi-faceted forward who can shoulder defensive duties very well and can adapt to new roles in no time.

1. Seriton Fernandes

The top name on our list is FC Goa’s most competent defender, Seriton Fernandes. He was left out by Igor Stimac for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, as he tested positive for COVID-19. However, he is now all set to give an account of himself on the international stage.

Seriton was one of FC Goa’s top performers last season in the ISL and also in the AFC Champions League. He is a fearless character with a growth mindset. The Goan is filled with incredible defensive and attacking attributes, which make him one of India’s top right-backs. He will be eager to present himself as a valuable asset for the Blue Tigers, if given a chance.

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