Some of these names had an incredible domestic season with their respective clubs.

Igor Stimac answered the demands from Indian football fans by calling up some deserved fan-favourites to his preliminary camp for the Kings Cup. The 37-man-squad saw many debutants being handed opportunities, such as Jobby Justin, Rahul Bheke, Michael Soosairaj and Amarjit Singh Kiyam. What Stephen Constantine hesitated to do, the Croatian seems to have embraced.

However, despite his popular choices, there are certain deserving individuals who were forced to take the back-seat. Certain players who performed really well in the league phase for their respective clubs were snubbed in place of other compatriots. Despite their consistency and impeccable performances in club-level, these players have to keep waiting for their opportunities to shine at the national level. So let’s look at 5 notable players to have missed out from Igor Stimac’s preliminary squad.

5. Seriton Fernandes

During FC Goa’s inspired season under Sergio Lobera, Seriton remained a key cog throughout the campaign. He appeared in every single game in their Indian Super League(ISL) campaign, assisting twice and averaging 40+ passes per game as well. Moreover, he displayed his stellar defensive ability by neutralizing many wingers’ threat and keeping the Gaurs defence protected.

Seriton has been one of the best performers for FC Goa last season

He made 88 tackles, 31 blocks and 53 clearances in the ISL, while also putting in great performances in the Super Cup. Fernandes proved himself as a vibrant right-back, capable of marauding through the right wing and expertly dealing with tricky wingers. Unfortunately, Stimac didn’t see that much in him and despite having a great campaign, he’s been ignored at the national level once again.

4. CK Vineeth

While he didn’t really have the most prolific ISL campaign, Vineeth has found back his lethal touch after joining up with Chennaiyin FC. He was excellent in their Super Cup campaign, scoring two important goals to help them make the finals. Moreover, he’s also made an impact in the AFC Cup, recently netting against Dhaka Abahani.

Vineeth’s pace, incisive ability to get behind defenders and link-up play make him probably among the most experienced strikers in the country.  However, he missed out on the national team probably due to his poor league performance. The former Bengaluru striker might’ve found back his spark in recent months, yet will need to wait to regain his place in the national team.

3. Lalram Chullova

The man from Mizoram had a superb season under Alejandro Menendez, leading from the front in his right-back spot. Chullova was excellent both defensively and going forward, proving to be an unmovable object for the Red and Gold Brigaders. He helped them keep five clean-sheets in the I-League season and put in dominating performances in the Kolkata derby along with other big games as well.

The 24-year-old also scored two goals, assisted quite a few while proving his defensive solidity with crunching tackles, clever interceptions and fearless spirit. Despite his heroics, Chullova missed out on the national cut-off. He put in equally dominating performances like Pritam Kotal or Nishu Kumar but will have to wait for his opportunity. Maybe an ISL move will grant that!


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2. Edwin Vanspaul

Rather than chasing the spotlight by joining up an ISL club, Edwin Vanspaul decided to take the risk of sticking with Akbar Nawas’ Chennai City last season. It turned to be an inspired one, with Vanspaul helped guide the Lions to their inaugural I-League title. The make-shift right-back was excellent in his position, showing hunger going forward and asserting his dominance in defence.

Vanspaul was one of the star performer of I-League last season

He rarely allowed wingers to outwit him, with his energetic demeanour and relentless pressing helping Chennai assert their authority. Vanspaul helped them keep multiple clean-sheets, but his work going forward was superb. He assisted more than five times in the league, helping his foreign stars flourish. Vanspaul showcased impressive leadership skills and a never-say-die attitude, but even his hard-working nature couldn’t grant him a place in Stimac’s preliminary squad.

1. Lenny Rodrigues

While the likes of Ferran Corominas and Jackichand Singh remained the face of FC Goa’s success, their unsung hero was Lenny Rodrigues. The 32-year-old midfielder was exceptional in the heart of midfield, depicting Sergio Lobera’s philosophy perfectly. Rodrigues’ work often went under the radar due to how unspectacular it was, but it was damn effective. He made 1242 passes in the ISL, averaging more than 59 passes per game with an accuracy of 87.35%.

Lenny was one of the best performers in the ISL last season

To back up his excellent distribution ability, he also worked extremely hard to regain possession, making 75 tackles, 33 interceptions and 40 clearances throughout the tournament. Lenny might not have scored a single goal, yet he remained the engine for the Gaurs to encourage their attractive football. While 30-year-old Adil Khan made the cut for his efforts, Lenny wasn’t as lucky. Despite his heroics, he remains in the shadows and probably saw his final chance of appearing for India fade away.