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Five players who will probably never make it to a Stephen Constantine India XI!

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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It seems these unfortunate souls can never do enough to win favour with the national team manager.

It could be a training session bust-up, like Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini. It could be an agent’s misdoing, like Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola at Man City, or it could just be a manager’s set of plans, like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jose Mourinho at Man United.

Here, we take a look at five Indian players who’ll, probably, never make the National team squad under current manager Stephen Constantine. 

Rahul Bheke: Arguably the performer of the season for several football fans and experts, Bheke chipped in with sublime performances every time he was on the pitch for Bengaluru FC. The former East Bengal defender’s versatility should work in his favor ideally, but that wasn’t the case, as manager Stephen Constantine decided to omit him from the 30-man squad for the Intercontinental Cup.



Bheke, who has the highest passing percentage amongst centre-backs in the country last season should be furious and must be asking, “What else do I need to do to get into the side?” Khel Now sources revealed that a handful of NT footballers were furious at Bheke’s omission.

Rahul Bheke is a constant threat with his long-range shots

Adil Khan: Amplifying after a terrific season with Churchill Brothers, Khan did nothing wrong with FC Pune City as well, stamping stronger stories with better proof of his ability. Khan’s passing and defensive resoluteness was easily a sight to behold, and yet, the man could not make the cut, again.

His versatility and matureness came handy for FC Pune City

Adil also scored a number of goals, bombing into the box and heading with confidence and authority. Such players help raise your confidence, and having someone like Khan would certainly had strengthened Constantine’s midfield. 

Lalramchullova: Does being one coach’s favourite cut you out of someone else’ technical book? That seems to be the case with Chullova, who has had two consecutive stellar seasons with Aizawl FC (I-league title win) and East Bengal, both under Khalid Jamil. A smooth passer, easy on the eye, strong on the ball and a good overlapper, the full-back ticks all boxes, except one.

He’s not been on the NT roster in the past and his only claim to fame is the I-league victory. Constantine, though, picked up Laldanmawia Ralte, who has an identical story but is just a differently positioned player. While the manager has always maintained that he likes unchanged defences, adding Chullova would’ve given the lad a major boost.


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Isaac Vanmalsawma: Including him in this list does not necessarily mean he deserves to make the squad, but Khel Now sources understand that Isaac is in the penumbra of the national team manager. Isaac, a dead ball specialist, had certainly played the right notes last season but failed to do the same this time around.

Isaac, who made the NT camp in May 2017, was dropped after Constantine came across an interview that was published during the camp. Published, not taken, being the keyword. Arrogance or injury, we’ll let you decide that.

Brandon Fernandes: He wouldn’t really be a happy show-stopper on this list, but that has been the piercing-dripping exclusions are crying. Fernandes is one of India’s best creative footballers, and wasting him on the fringes is something that Constantine might have to repent at the Asian Cup 2019, if captain and talisman Sunil Chhetri has an off day or suffers an injury.

Brandon Fernandes was a key player for the Gaurs last season

At the moment, Brandon has had one of his best seasons with FC Goa, is fit at 24 to take responsibility, and will easily accept the baton if needed. Is there a cold war that has been brewing for too long now, without the true story emerging? Who knows.

Published: Thu May 24, 2018 04:03 PM IST

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